July 29, 2011

Virgin Galactic Appoints First Chief Financial Officer (Source: Virgin Galactic)
Virgin Galactic has appointed Kenneth H. Sunshine as its first Chief Financial Officer. In this newly created role, Sunshine will be responsible for managing the company’s financial strategy, driving growth and overseeing all finance and accounting functions as Virgin Galactic transitions from a development project to a commercially operational business. (7/29)

Rockwell Collins Reports 11% Increase in Quarterly Profit (Source: AIA)
Rockwell Collins reported an 11% jump in earnings to $158 million for its fiscal third quarter, compared with $142 million for the same period last year. The aircraft supplier missed analysts' expectations for the quarter and lowered its full-year sales outlook. However, the company's growth in commercial systems offset some of its losses in government systems, said CEO Clay Jones. (7/22)

Honeywell Quarterly Profit Soars (Source: AIA)
Honeywell International reported a 43% increase in quarterly profit, prompting the manufacturer to increase its full-year outlook. The company, which benefited from an increase in demand, posted a profit of $810 million for the second quarter. During the same quarter last year, Honeywell reported a $566 million profit. (7/22)

UTC Studies Sale of Rocket Assets (Source: Wall Street Journal)
United Technologies Corp. is considering a partial sale or other strategic option for its rocket-engine business, highlighting increased fragility of the U.S. space industrial base. Jim Maser, head of the company's Rocketdyne unit, said potential asset sales are under review as part of a broad internal assessment of the unit's competitive stance. No formal talks are under way with prospective bidders, and Rocketdyne, which is part of the Pratt & Whitney operations of United Technologies, also is mulling potential acquisitions or joint ventures. (7/25)

China, India and Iran Race to Explore Space as U.S. Withdraws (Source: AIA)
As the U.S. pulls back from its human-spaceflight program, foreign countries are engaged in a new space-exploration race. China, India and other nations are building rockets, satellites, research centers and lunar rovers. "The Chinese have major aspirations in space," said Marion Blakey, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association. "It would be a terrible thing to watch their backs as they go into deep space while we are grounded." (7/25)

General Electric Reports 18% Jump in Quarterly Profit (Source: Bloomberg)
General Electric's finance unit helped the company post quarterly earnings that exceeded Wall Street estimates. GE reported $3.73 billion in profit from continuing operations for the second quarter, an 18% increase from the same quarter last year. "The source of earnings growth was really GE Capital, where profits more than doubled," said Matt Collins, an analyst at Edward Jones. "Industrial revenue growth actually slowed and profits declined, but if the healthy order growth continues, earnings should rebound in 2012 and beyond." (7/22)

Defense-Industry Employees Might Reconsider Career Track (Source: Washington Post)
Officials at the Department of Defense are encouraging defense contractors to reduce expenses, causing a ripple effect through the industry. Some companies have trimmed their workforces, prompting concerns that some of the most skilled workers in the industry might reconsider their options. "If you begin to see young talent with technical degrees going elsewhere, it's a genuine problem for our country from a national security standpoint and an economic standpoint," said Marion C. Blakey, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association. (7/26)

Most Export-Control Changes Don't Need Congress, Official Says (Source: The Hill)
Michael Froman of the White House said that most of the Obama administration's proposed export-control changes could be enacted without congressional action. Froman, the deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, said that about 80% of the proposals could be put into place through "executive authority," but the administration has crafted legislation for some of the most important reforms. Remy Nathan, vice president of international affairs at the Aerospace Industries Association, said the proposed changes would help clarify whether items are military or commercial. (7/26)

FAA Loses Millions Daily Because of Lawmakers' Deadlock (Source: Bloomberg)
Randy Babbitt, administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration, said the agency is losing $30 million daily because lawmakers have failed to approve legislation reauthorizing the agency to collect taxes. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he isn't planning to bring an FAA extension bill to the Senate floor for a vote. He and other Senate Democrats oppose a measure that has been approved by the House because it would stop government support for flights to 13 airports in small towns. (7/25)

Use Taxpayer Dollars for America's Space Program -- Not Russia's (Source: AIA)
With the retirement of the historic space shuttle, the United States now runs the risk of becoming a supplicant: we will have no choice but to pay the Russians $60 million a seat to send a U.S. astronaut to the International Space Station. Instead of funding Russia's space program, it would seem to anyone with the long view that these taxpayer dollars would be better spent investing in new NASA programs for commercial space flight and Mars exploration. (7/26)

Celestis Taking Reservations for Next Earth Orbit Mission (Source: Celestis)
Our next Earth Orbit mission, The New Frontier Flight, is scheduled to occur in Q3/Q4 2011 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. This will be our 11th memorial spaceflight. With over 300 participants already on board, space is very limited: At this point, we have less than a dozen available preferred positions remaining. The price for the preferred capsule service is $3,995.00. If you are considering memorializing your loved one on board this historic space mission, then we recommend you contact us ASAP to make a reservation. Click here. (7/22)

Embry-Riddle Offers Accident Investigation Short Courses (Source: ERAU)
Embry-Riddle's Professional Programs Office will host several five-day Center for Aerospace Safety/Security Education (CASE) short courses that combine the latest in safety, security, human factors, and aircraft accident investigation topics in a professional and dynamic classroom environment. Participants may elect to take courses independently or to complete three of the courses to receive a Certificate of Management in Aviation Safety. Click here. (7/26)

Igniting Innovation Showcase on Sep. 7 (Source: TRDA)
Join Space Florida and the Technological Research and Development Authority (TRDA) for the Igniting Innovation Showcase in Port Canaveral, Florida on September 7, 2011. This full-day of business presentations and exhibitions will feature approximately 40 aerospace, aviation, biotech, life science, clean tech, defense, homeland security, information technology and telecommunications companies from across the state. Chosen from TRDA's Clean Tech Ventures and Capital Acceleration initiatives, these companies represent some of the most innovative and promising entrepreneurial firms. Click here. (7/27)

Unique Volcanic Complex Discovered on Lunar Far Side (Source: Space Daily)
Analysis of new images of a curious "hot spot" on the far side of the Moon reveal it to be a small volcanic province created by the upwelling of silicic magma. The unusual location of the province and the surprising composition of the lava that formed it offer tantalizing clues to the Moon's thermal history. (7/26)

Voyage to Vaccine Discovery Continues with Space Station Salmonella Study (Source: Space Daily)
Any scientist can tell you that research is a time-consuming pursuit. In fact, it can take decades to show results, as the knowledge compounds and inspires additional studies. This building of information is what led to the Recombinant Attenuated Salmonella Vaccine or RASV investigation, which launched to the International Space Station on July 8, 2011.

The investigation combines decades of expertise between two Arizona State University research teams. One team, led by Cheryl Nickerson, Ph.D. specializes in the use of the spaceflight platform to provide insight into how microbial pathogens cause infection and disease in the human body. The other team, led by Roy Curtiss III, Ph.D. focuses on the design and clinical testing of next generation vaccines to protect against diseases caused by pathogenic microbes. (7/29)

Why Tiangong is Not a Station Hub (Source: Space Daily)
There's been another round of inaccurate reporting in the Chinese media about China's Tiangong space laboratory. Stories have claimed that Tiangong 1, due to be launched within two months, is the cornerstone of a Chinese space station. This is not true.

Let's review the facts in brief. Tiangong 1 is a small space laboratory module with a single docking port. It will be launched before the end of September 2011. Later this year, we expect the unmanned Shenzhou 8 spacecraft to dock with it. Shenzhou 8 will return to Earth after staying docked with the Tiangong 1 laboratory for less than a month.

Next year, we expect the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft to be launched to Tiangong 1. This time, there will be astronauts aboard. Tiangong is testing many of the technologies that China will need to build a space station. China has announced plans to build a large space station in the years ahead. But Tiangong 1 is not going to be a part of that space station. (7/29)

Raytheon's Quarterly Earnings More than Double (Wall Street Journal)
Raytheon raised its full-year earnings forecast as it reported $438 million in profit for the second quarter, more than double the company's profit for the same quarter last year. The defense contractor said its main missile-systems operation experienced weaker results, but they were offset by cost controls. The company has also looking at foreign customers as the U.S. cuts defense spending. (7/29)

Will Defense Contractors Get Paid if U.S. Government Shuts Down? (Source: USA Today)
The possibility of a U.S. government shutdown has left defense contractors wondering if -- and when -- they will get paid. Cord Sterling of the Aerospace Industries Association said the government would probably honor current contracts, but eschew signing new contracts. "But none of us knows. We've never been in this situation," he said. (7/28)

Blog: FAA Shutdown Sidelines NextGen Initiative (Source: Reason Online)
Blogger Robert Poole says the Federal Aviation Administration should make NextGen a priority once the agency receives funding. "I hope the current shutdown of FAA's NextGen modernization program serves as a wake-up call to airlines and the traveling public," he writes. "We desperately need to modernize our 1960s-era air traffic control system."

Editor's Note: Also affected by the FAA shutdown are workers in the Office of Commercial Space Transportation. (7/29)

Boeing's Profit Rises 20%, Northrop's Falls 27% in 2nd Quarter (Source: LA Times)
Aerospace giants Boeing and Northrop Grumman reported contrasting second-quarter financial results as each coped with a declining Pentagon appetite for weapons. Boeing, boosted on sales of its commercial jets, said its earnings climbed 20% in the quarter, while Northrop, which relies on the Pentagon for nearly all of its business, posted a 27% decline in profit.

Northrop said it earned $520 million, down from $740 million a year earlier.The company saw sales decline in all of its business units — technical services, aerospace, electronics and information systems. Its largest unit, aerospace systems, which makes fighter jets and robotic spy planes, experienced the biggest downturn, with sales falling 9% to $2.6 billion. (7/28)

EADS Profit Rises on Airbus Deliveries (Source: Bloomberg)
European Aeronautic, Defense & Space Co., the parent of Airbus SAS, said profit in the first half rose 39 percent after higher plane deliveries outweighed lower revenue at the defense subsidiary. Earnings before interest and tax advanced to 563 million euros ($806 million) from 406 million euros a year earlier. (7/29)

China Launches Another Experimental Satellite (Source: Xinhua)
China launched an experimental orbiter into space from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu Province on Friday, aboard a Long March II-C carrier rocket. The launch marked the 142nd flight for the Long March rocket family. (7/28)

Navy Drops Former Astronaut Nowak (Source: CNN)
A former astronaut accused of assaulting a romantic rival has been forced to retire from the Navy with an "other than honorable" discharge. Capt. Lisa Nowak's retirement is effective September 1. Her "conduct fell well short of that expected of senior officers in our Navy and demonstrated a complete disregard for the well-being of a fellow service member," Juan Garcia, the assistant secretary of the Navy, said in a statement. (7/29)

Other Nations Forge Ahead in Space While US Takes Break (Source: Engineering News)
The wider significance of Space Adventures' circumlunar tourist mission is that the Russians will be able to develop a lunar spacecraft at almost no cost to themselves. The initial tourist flight will almost certainly be followed by national Russian scientific missions. In due course, it is easy to imagine the second habitation module being replaced by a lunar landing module. And the Russians finally landing people on the Moon.

Meanwhile, back on earth, ESA continues its own slow but steady advance to independent crewed spaceflight capability, with a re-entry technology development program. Couple this with the agency’s tremendously successful robot freighter, the Automated Transfer Vehicle (which cannot re-enter the earth’s atmosphere) and ESA could have its own, four-person space capsule by 2020.

And, of course, the Chinese have already put three manned spacecraft into orbit so far, and are planning to launch a one-module space laboratory in the near future. China has, as yet, no manned lunar program, but is considering one. The space age is far from over, even if the Americans are taking time out. (7/29)

Job Fair for Jettisoned Shuttle Workers (Source: Executive Gov)
Federal agencies hosted a job fair Tuesday in Cape Canaveral, Fla. for job seekers looking for employment after the Space Shuttle program ended, Greenwire reports. NASA and the Office of Personnel Management hosted the job fair to help the nearly 5,500 employees at the Kennedy Space Center who have lost their jobs. (7/28)

Groups Rally to Create Second Life for Space Contractors (Source: Houston Business Journal)
The Houston Technology Center is opening a new office near NASA’s Johnson Space Center to support the redeployment of JSC contractors whose jobs were on the chopping block as a result of the space shuttle program winding down. The center’s goal is to not only help transition some of the 4,000 people estimated to lose jobs, but to establish new business in the process. (7/29)

SpaceX Eyes November 30 Cargo Launch to Station (Source: Reuters)
SpaceX, a privately owned firm developing a space taxi with U.S.-government backing, plans to launch its second test capsule on November 30 and send it all the way to the International Space Station. SpaceX leveraged $300 million of NASA funds with $500 million from investors, including founder and chief executive Elon Musk, to develop the Falcon family of rockets, multipurpose Dragon capsules, manufacturing and test sites, and launch facilities in Florida and at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. (7/28)

Senators Subpoena Rocket Documents From NASA (Source: Aviation Week)
The chairman and ranking Republican of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee have made good on their threat to subpoena documents related to NASA’s selection of a design for the heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS), setting up a showdown over the agency’s pace in meeting a congressional order.

The subpoena from Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), the panel chair, and ranking minority member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) went to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on July 27, after the committee and its staff apparently were unsatisfied with NASA’s progress in meeting the 2010 NASA Authorization Act’s call for a heavy-lift launch vehicle.

The design was due in January, and the panel has been threatening a rare subpoena for information for more than a month. “As the Senate committee responsible for developing NASA’s policies and authorizing its expenditures, we also have the duty to make sure that NASA is spending taxpayers’ dollars in accordance with the law,” Rockefeller and Hutchison wrote to Bolden in June. (7/29)

Virgin Taking a Break From Test Flights (Source: Space.com)
The space tourism company Virgin Galactic is taking a summer break from testing its suborbital rocket plane – a hiatus in preparation for the next stage of demonstration flights. Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo launch system entered a quiet period of data assessment after a campaign of piloted glide tests, including a midair evaluation of the craft’s unique re-entry technology.

Technicians at the Mojave Air and Space Port from Scaled Composites, the designers and builders of the system, will apply lessons learned from the SpaceShipTwo glide flights as they prepare for the next phase of testing, George Whitesides, chief executive and president of Virgin Galactic, said. (7/29)

Physicists Weigh Antimatter with Amazing Accuracy (Source: Space.com)
A new measurement provides the most accurate weight yet of antimatter, revealing the mass of the antiproton (the proton's antiparticle) down to one part in a billion. To give a sense of just how accurate their measurement was, researcher Masaki Hori said: "Imagine measuring the weight of the Eiffel Tower. The accuracy we've achieved here is roughly equivalent to making that measurement to within less than the weight of a sparrow perched on top. Next time it will be a feather."

The result, detailed this week in the journal Nature, may help scientists investigate the mystery of why the universe is made of regular matter even though they suspect roughly equal parts of matter and antimatter were around just after the universe formed. When a particle, such as a proton, meets with its antimatter partner, the antiproton, the two annihilate each other in a powerful explosion. (7/29)

ISS Set for Science Surge (Source: Flight Global)
With the wheels barely cool after the final touchdown of the Space Shuttle program, member space agencies of the International Space Station's Multilateral Coordination Board met to discuss the future of the orbiting laboratory - which could soon take on a new role as a testbed for ambitious manned or unmanned missions into deeper space.

Missions to Mars or an asteroid or to establish lunar bases, are expected to depend on technologies and in-space working techniques that would be developed on the ISS. The Board, which meets periodically to co-ordinate ISS activities with senior representatives from the Canadian Space Agency, the European Space Agency, a Japanese ministry, NASA and Russia's Roscosmos, discussed the requirements of various possible missions. (7/29)

Commercial Space Sector Boost Expected (Source: Insurance Daily)
The end of the US space shuttle program could boost the commercial space sector, providing extra business for insurers, according to Simon Clapham, space underwriter at Liberty Syndicates. Few space shuttle payloads have been insured since the Challenger disaster in 1986, after which commercial cargo was no longer transported on the shuttle.

However, Lloyd’s underwriters have already written insurance for so called space tourists traveling to the International Space Station onboard the Soyuz spacecraft, and new operators in the sector, such as SpaceX, the launch vehicle developer, need insurance.

Hiscox space underwriter, Denis Bensoussan, comments that work is currently underway with brokers and commercial ventures to develop insurance solutions for launch vehicles, cargo, crew and individual passengers on commercial space flights. (7/28)

Florida Teacher Sees End of Shuttle as an Opportunity (Source: WFLA)
Spend any time at all in Lori Bradner's science classroom at the Central Florida Aerospace Academy, and it's pretty clear she has a passion for the space program. "If they open up the astronaut corps I'm going to apply," Bradner said. She's already had some incredible opportunities with NASA, like her trip to Space Camp for educators in Huntsville, Ala., and her recent trip on the agency's Zero-Gravity Plane.

"I got to fly in reduced gravity, in zero G, which was phenomenal," she said. There was also the satellite uplink with the International Space Station, which she scored for her students back in January. "Our students got to talk to the astronauts. It was fabulous." Those experiences and a lifetime spent saturated in all things space makes the end of the shuttle program especially poignant for Bradner. (7/22)

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