July 2, 2011

Bolden: Tremendous Interest in Commercial Use of KSC Facilities (Source: Florida Today)
Kennedy Space Center, which Bolden called "one of our most valuable resources," will be upgraded because the commercial space industry has expressed interest in using NASA's facilities. "We have tremendous interest from our commercial space partners in reusing these assets and are close to making some major announcements about this soon," Bolden said. Astronauts will get to the International Space Station by hitching rides on Russian Soyuz rockets until U.S. companies, working with NASA, develop commercial rockets in the next few years. At the same time, NASA will develop a heavy-lift rocket to eventually reach asteroids and Mars. (7/2)

Five Myths About NASA (Source: Washington Post)
This year marks the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s speech announcing plans to send Americans to the moon — and marks the end of the space shuttle program. Today, many Americans have no memory of the moon landing, and NASA isn’t a source of pride but a budget line that needs to be cut. Why spend billions exploring an uninhabitable environment when many Americans don’t have health care? To understand the importance of our space program, it’s first necessary to debunk some misconceptions about what NASA is and how it operates. The myths include: 1) NASA's purpose is to colonize space; 2) NASA is extraordinarily expensive; 3) NASA's research is only useful in space; 4) NASA is an obstacle to private enterprise in space; and 5) the American space program still leads the world. Click here. (7/2)

Conaton: Budget Pressure Necessitates Satellite Block Buys (Source: Space News)
With the U.S. Congress pushing back on the Air Force’s proposal to start buying multiple satellites at a time using multiyear advance appropriations, a top service official reiterated the need to rein in the cost of space systems and stabilize the industrial base to prepare for the tough fiscal environment the military will face in the years ahead. The Air Force’s budget for space programs likely will come under pressure from other Defense Department priorities, which means everyone will have to learn how to do more with less, Air Force Undersecretary Erin Conaton said at an event here hosted by the Space Foundation and Center for Strategic Space Studies. (7/2)

Musk Wins One Prize, Eyes a Bigger One (Source: NewSpace Journal)
The Heinlein Prize Trust awarded its second Heinlein Prize for accomplishments in commercial space activities to Elon Musk of SpaceX. At the luncheon, which attracted an audience from the public and private sectors, including NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver and FAA associate administrator for commercial space transportation George Nield, Musk received the $250,000 prize and its accoutrements, a “Laureate’ Diploma” and a sword. “I love the sword in particular, it’s pretty awesome,” Musk said.

He said the company has been “slightly’ profitable the last four years and anticipates being profitable again this year, so the company doesn’t have an immediate need for capital. However, he said he is considering an initial public offering (IPO) of stock, perhaps late next year. “The public markets are a very efficient way to raise capital,” he said, “and it’s probably a good move to have a capital reserve.”

SpaceX has talked from time to time over the last several years about doing an IPO; one drawback he acknowledged Wednesday is that by going public it opens up the company’s plans to scrutiny from investors who may have shorter time horizons than Musk and other current investors. (7/2)

Ariane 5 Launch Postponed for Component Swap (Source: Arianespace)
Arianespace’s Ariane 5 mission with the ASTRA 1N and BSAT-3c/JCSAT-110R satellite will be delayed to allow a valve replacement for the launcher’s cryogenic core stage, which follows an anomaly that interrupted the final countdown yesterday in French Guiana. To replace this valve – which did not function properly – Ariane 5 will be transferred from the Spaceport’s ELA-3 launch zone back to the Final Assembly Building, requiring approximately 20 days. (7/2)

Webb Telescope Delayed Past 2018? (Source: Nature)
Hubble’s successor -- the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) -- is in a heap of trouble. Things were already bad in October, when it was supposed to launch in 2014 and its price tag stood at $5 billion. Then in November, an independent review said its costs had risen to $6.5 billion and that it would not launch until 2015. Now, a review board says the 6-meter segmented telescope may not even get off the ground in 2018. A baseline plan that includes the telescope launching in fiscal year 2018 is “unfeasible”, according to an internal memo from Goddard Space Flight Center. (7/2)

Inside NASA's 'Skunk Works' Lab (Source: MSNBC)
With the space shuttle program ending, what does NASA have to look forward to? The future of deep-space exploration is already taking shape, inside the walls of Johnson Space Center's Building 220, the space agency's "Skunk Works" lab for human spaceflight. This is where NASA once worked on the X-38, a snub-nosed space plane that might have carried astronauts down to Earth from the International Space Station.

The project was canceled in 2002, and today the 12,000-square-foot building houses hardware for a succession of projects that are not quite ready for prime time. But some of them may be ready sooner than you think. Take Robonaut 2, for example. The humanoid upper-body robot was shipped up to the space station in February. A Robonaut twin is set up in Building 220. Click here. (7/2)

Command Change Underway for 45th Space Wing (Source: Florida Today)
Brig. Gen. Ed Wilson, commander of the 45th Space Wing, has been named director of Air Component Coordination Element, 24th Air Force, Air Force Space Command at Fort Meade. Brig. Gen. (Select) Anthony J. Cotton, commander of the 341st Missile Wing, Air Force Global Strike Command at Malmstrom Air Force Base will replace Wilson at the 45th Space Wing. A change of command date has not been set. (7/2)

Majority Sees U.S. Leadership in Space as Essential (Source: Pew Research Center)
Most Americans say the United States must be at the forefront of future space exploration. Fifty years after the first American manned space flight, nearly six-in-ten (58%) say it is essential that the United States continue to be a world leader in space exploration; about four-in-ten say this is not essential (38%). Looking back on the shuttle program, a majority (55%) say it has been a good investment for the country. However, this is lower than it was in the 1980s; throughout the early years of the shuttle program, six-in-ten or more said the program was a good investment. Click here for details. (7/2)

FAA’s Nield to Discuss Commercial Space Transportation (Source: NSCFL)
Dr. George C. Nield, Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), will be the guest speaker for the National Space Club (NSC) meeting held on Tuesday, July 19, 2011. His presentation is entitled “The Future of Commercial Space Transportation.” The luncheon event begins at 11:30 a.m. and will be held at the Radisson at the Port, Cape Canaveral. (7/2)

Evidence of a Wet Martian Past in California Desert (Source: NASA)
Scientists at the SETI Institute and NASA's Ames Research Center believe that traces of Mars’ wet past are hidden from the scrutiny of space-borne instruments under a thin varnish of iron oxide, or rust. New research suggests that Mars could be spotted with many more patches of carbonates – minerals that form readily in large bodies of water and can point to a planet's wet history – than originally suspected.

Although only a few small outcrops of carbonates have been detected on Mars, scientists believe many more examples are blocked from view by a screen of iron-rich varnish. The varnish is so widespread that each of the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, have a motorized grinding tool to remove the rust-like overcoat on rocks before the rovers’ other instruments can inspect them. In fact, the varnish resembles the thin, dark coating commonly found on desert rocks on Earth.

"When we examined the carbonate rocks in the lab, it became evident that an iron oxide skin may be hindering the search for clues to the Red Planet’s hydrological history," said Chris McKay. Janice Bishop found “that the varnish both altered and partially masked the spectral signature of the carbonates." (7/2)

Mark Kelly Says he Won't Run for Political Office (Source: CNN)
Astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, put rumors to rest Friday that he may run for political office. “Gabby is the politician in the family. I’m the space guy and I see no reason to change that,” Kelly said during a National Press Club event on NASA activities. (7/2)

Commercial Space Capsule Lands at Cape Canaveral (Source: Sunshine News)
A history-making space capsule has landed at Cape Canaveral's museum. The Dragon Capsule by SpaceX -- the first commercial enterprise to launch, fly, land and recover a spacecraft from Earth orbit -- is now on display at the Air Force Space and Missile History Center. Flown on a SpaceX rocket last December and unveiled for the first time to the public on Friday, the capsule is the forerunner to a NASA demonstration flight slated for this fall.

Dragon can be viewed for a limited time at the Space and Missile History Center, a 3,200-square-foot facility that houses historic hardware and visual displays that highlight all active and deactivated Cape launch complexes from the past 50-plus years of flight. The museum is located at 100 Space Port Way, accessible via Gate 1, also known as the South Gate of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (7/2)

A Step Closer to Explaining Our Existence (Source: MSNBC)
Why are we here? It remains one of the largest unexplained mysteries of the universe, but particle physicists are gaining more confidence in a result from an atom smashing experiment that could be a step toward providing an answer. We exist because the universe is full of matter and not the opposite, so-called antimatter. When the Big Bang occurred, equal parts of both should have been created and immediately annihilated each other, leaving nothing leftover to build the stars, planets and us. (7/2)

Historic Shuttle Day Paves Way for 'Horrendous' Traffic (Source: Florida Today)
Tourism officials predict Friday's final shuttle launch may attract as many as 1 million visitors, practically tripling Brevard County's population and triggering one of its most "horrendous" traffic jams in history. Atlantis is scheduled to blast off from pad 39A at 11:26 a.m. as NASA's 135th and crowning shuttle mission. Children are on summer vacation, and throngs of Central Florida residents -- from space geeks to casual fans -- will swamp prime observation areas. NASA has also issued an estimate of 500,000 to 750,000 spectators. (7/2)

Bolden: Space Exploration a Priority (Source: USA Today)
The United States will continue to lead in space exploration despite the end of the space shuttle program, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said Friday during an appearance at the National Press Club. The United States needs to cede its low-earth orbit missions, such as the space shuttle, to the private sector so it can free up resources to explore deep space, Bolden said. President Obama has directed NASA to work toward sending manned spacecraft to an asteroid and to Mars.

"American leadership in space will continue for at least the next half-century because we have laid the foundation for success," Bolden said. "We are not ending human spaceflight. We are recommitting ourselves to it and taking the necessary and difficult steps today to ensure America's pre-eminence in human spaceflight for years to come." (7/2)

Red Wine: The Official NASA Drink? (Source: Hartford Courant)
Resveratrol, the seemingly magic ingredient in red wine that provides a massive amount of antioxidants, also might counteract the effects of weightlessness. After spending long periods in space, astronauts often suffer from conditions known as hypokinesia and hypodynamia, caused by the lack of gravity. Muscle atrophy and insulin resistance are among the symptoms.

Researchers in France simulated the effects of weightlessness in rats by suspending them by their hindlimbs. Some were given a daily dose of resveratrol. Those that did not receive the resveratrol showed a decrease in muscle strength and bone density. (7/2)

NASA Administrator: Jobs May Return To KSC (Source: WESH)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden hinted at a major announcement that will put people back to work in one of the space shuttle’s hangars. Bolden told the National Press Club in Washington on Friday that plans are in the works for a private company to use one of the orbiter processing facilities at the Kennedy Space Center, where the space shuttles are prepared for launch.

Bolden gave no details about how many jobs will be saved or what kind of work will be done in the hangar. The final shuttle launch is scheduled for July 8, after which the shuttles will be put on display in museums and shuttle workers will be laid off. NASA is funding several startup companies that are trying to build new spaceships. One of those companies is building a mini-shuttle.

Editor's Note: Good guess that this is another one of the projects approved last month by Space Florida's board of directors, investing millions of dollars to convert federal facilities at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport for commercial space operations. (7/2)

NASA Administrator Bolden Defends Future Human Spaceflight Plans (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden declared that American leadership in space will continue. Bolden, at right in a NASA photo by Bill Ingalls, chastised nay-sayers who claim the agency is a adrift, with no clear plans to replace the space shuttle program after Atlantis’s final mission, launching July 8. He said, “these folks must be living on another planet.”

The agency is planning and developing a program to take manned space flight beyond lower Earth’s orbit, where it has been the past 35 years. Last month NASA unveiled plans for a new rocket that could carry the newly-designed capsule, based on the Orion capsule developed last decade. But for the moment, NASA has not determined where or when it will next send astronauts. “Our destinations for humans beyond Earth remain ambitious. They include: the moon, asteroids, and Mars,” Bolden said. “The debate is not if we will explore, but how we’ll do it.”(7/2)

Two UF Experiments Will Fly with Final Shuttle Mission (Source: Gainesville Sun)
Two UF experiments will be aboard the space shuttle Atlantis for the final launch of program, scheduled Friday, July 8. The experiments are testing the effects of low gravity on two very different things: beneficial bacteria in baby squid and a plant used to make an alternative fuel. Versions of both experiments have also been sent aboard previous shuttle missions. The squid experiment is intended to use squid as a way to provide understanding into how space travel affects beneficial bacteria in humans. (7/2)

House bill Aims to Bring Retired shuttle to Houston (Source: KTRK)
While preparations are underway for the Atlantis launch, the battle continues over what will become of the shuttles after retirement. Houston was snubbed when the announcement was made four months ago, but the fight is not over. Houston, there is still some hope. It's House Bill 1536, and it would override NASA's decision as to where the retired shuttles would go and it calls for Houston to get Endeavour. That legislation is still in committee on Capitol Hill, but some local leaders aren't waiting for a vote.

As Atlantis sits on launch pad 39A ready for its final flight next week, the end of the shuttle program is near. But apparently, Houston's fight to be the permanent home of a retired orbiter is not over. "There are still efforts to get one of the operational orbiters back to Houston. I mean, again, Space City USA," Congressman Pete Olson said. At a space strategy forum Friday at Rice University, Olson said that, aside from legislation in congress, he is personally taking up the cause. (7/2)

Hawes Leaving NASA, Will Work for Lockheed (Source: Space News)
Michael Hawes, NASA’s associate administrator for program analysis and evaluation, is leaving the agency for the private sector July 5, when he will join Lockheed Martin Space Systems as director of human spaceflight for the company’s Washington operations. Lockheed announced the hire in a June 29 internal memorandum. He succeeds Linda Karanian who is retiring. (7/2)

European Soyuz Must Pass Final Exam Before October Debut (Source: Space News)
European governments’ $800 million investment in importing Russia’s Soyuz rocket to Europe’s Guiana Space Center spaceport faces several weeks of grilling by outside experts starting in mid-July to determine whether the system is ready for flight. A Qualification Committee composed of experts from the French and European space agencies and from Russian industry — none of them with direct involvement in the project — will judge the project’s fitness in a series of reviews to begin July 19 and to last until mid-September. (7/2)

White House Honors Space Coast Businesses, Educators, Others (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
The White House Friday recognized 10 Space Coast educators, space officials and economic development leaders with a “Champions of Change” designation – declaring that they are helping America “out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world,” and inviting them to the White House.

The space-related honorees include: Dale Ketcham, director of the Spaceport Research & Technology Institute; Fredric S. Maxik, chief scientific officer of Lighting Science Group Corporation; Joyce Riquelme, manager at the Kennedy Space Center Planning and Development Office; Former state Rep. Tony Sasso, D-Cocoa Beach; Automotive entrepreneur R.J. Scaringe; Educator and former space shuttle technician Jen Scheer; SpaceX executive Carrie Solomon; Lynda L. Weatherman, president & CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast; and Bob Whelen, vice president of Harris Corp. and chairman the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast.

“These Champions of Change work day in and day out to enable innovation, education, and new development that promotes economic growth and excellence in science and technology by taking advantage of the skills of the workforce, facilities, and infrastructure of the Florida Space Coast,” declared President Barrack Obama’s Strategy for American Innovation program. (7/2)

Shuttle's Lessons Will Endure For Decades (Source: Aviation Week)
Even after the three surviving space shuttle orbiters have gathered a few decades of dust in their respective museums, mid-century spacefarers from around the Earth will be using tools and techniques for operating in space that were incubated on the historic U.S. spaceplanes. Click here to read the article. (7/2)

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