August 12, 2011

Florida Lt. Governor Embraces Aerospace Role (Source: SPACErePORT)
Florida Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll has assumed what has become a regular post for the state's Lt. Governors: serving as board chairperson of the state's space agency. Gov. Rick Scott asked her to chair the Space Florida board, a role the agency hopes to codify in a 2012 amendment to the agency's enabling legislation, Chapter 331, Part Two, Florida Statutes.

Carroll, a former Navy Lt. Commander and state legislator representing the Jacksonville area, also serves as the state's point person on aerospace and defense industry issues. She will also represent the state on the Aerospace States Association. (8/12)

NASA Opens Water Basin of the Future (Source: NASA)
NASA has opened a new testing facility at Langley that is vital to the development and certification of future space exploration vehicles. The Hydro Impact Basin is located at the center's historic Gantry, where Neil Armstrong trained to walk on the moon, and is currently being used to validate the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) for water landings.

This is a "bridge to the future," said Lesa Roe, Langley's center director. "It's commemorating the next chapter in our (space exploration) legacy." Roe asked the assembly of NASA Langley employees and political officials, to imagine decades ago, when a vehicle containing astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin - the first men to step on the moon -- hung from the Gantry to train for the final 150 feet of their descent to the lunar surface.

And, she reminded, Armstrong said of that landing in Apollo 11 "was just like we practiced at Langley." It's what she and those who work at the Gantry and in support of the facility would love to hear in a future in which space exploration ranges far out of low-Earth or even lunar orbit, to a distant asteroid and, eventually, a planet. (8/12)

NASA Unveils New Batch Of Space Shuttle Program Artifacts (Source: NASA)
The final space shuttle landing opened new prospects for eligible education institutions, museums and other organizations to receive a piece of spaceflight history. On Monday, Aug. 15, the eighth batch of artifacts from NASA's space programs will be available on a website that the agency and the General Services Administration (GSA) developed.

The artifacts are not only from the shuttle era, but also from the Apollo, Mercury, Hubble Space Telescope programs. The approximately 2,000 items include: -- the Scott Carpenter Space Analog Station, an underwater habitat that was used to demonstrate space life support system ideas for use on space stations -- shuttle heat shield tiles used to test problems experienced during missions -- parts of Apollo and shuttle era spacesuits. Click here to view and request artifacts. (8/12)

Jodie Foster Helps Revive SETI Search for Aliens (Source:
E.T., the phone line is open and SETI is waiting for your call. And apparently Jodie Foster, too. The nonprofit Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, which was forced earlier this year to shutter its Allen Telescope Array, used to listen for alien signals, due to budget issues, has raised enough money to resume the search for life beyond planet Earth.

The institute reached its goal last week of raising $200,000 to operate the telescope through the end of this year. The funds came from over 2,000 private donors, including the actress Jodie Foster, who played fictional SETI scientist Ellie Arroway in the 1997 movie "Contact." (8/12)

Defense and Health Industries Aim to Influence Deficit Panel (Source: AIA)
The defense and health care industries are trying to influence the new congressional panel tasked with cutting the U.S. deficit, but the industries are taking markedly different paths. For defense, the automatic triggers in the deal over the debt limit is a "doomsday mechanism," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says. "American leadership in aerospace and defense is being threatened by forces in Congress and the administration," according to a website sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association. (8/12)

NASA Proposes $38 Billion, 2-Flight Moon Rocket (Source: LA Times)
NASA is proposing a $38 billion rocket and capsule that would take astronauts to the moon twice over the next decade, internal documents show. The cost could derail the new spacecraft as lawmakers are already looking for ways to trim the space agency's budget. (8/12)

Gemini XII Dinner Planned with Lovell, Aldrin (Source: ASF)
Join the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) and more than 30 space heroes for an incredible evening of celebration at the Gemini XII 45th Anniversary Dinner on Nov. 5 at the Radisson Resort at Cape Canaveral, honoring crewmembers Buzz Aldrin and James Lovell.

The lineup includes other astronauts and guests: Alan Bean, John Blaha, Vance Brand, Scott Carpenter, Jerry Carr, Gene Cernan, Eileen Collins, Charlie Duke, Ed Gibson, Hoot Gibson, Dick Gordon, Fred Gregory, Gerry Griffin, Fred Haise, Tom Jones, Jack Lousma, Mike McCulley, Edgar Mitchell, Rusty Schweickart, Rick Searfoss, Rhea Seddon, Bob Springer, Kathy Thornton, Paul Weitz, Al Worden and more to come!! Click here. (8/12)

Close-up of Vesta Poses Puzzle (Source: Nature News)
Planetary scientists thought they knew what to expect when NASA's Dawn spacecraft returned the first close-up portrait of the giant asteroid Vesta last month. Fuzzy images from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) taken in 1996 seemed to show that something had taken a big bite out of the asteroid's south polar region.

The crater was posited as the source of Vesta-like fragments that populate the asteroid belt, and of a surprisingly large fraction of the meteorites found on Earth. Vesta's huge depression isn't like those of most impact craters: it is ringed by a wall for only about half its circumference. It also has a large rounded mound in its middle, rather than the usual conical uplift. (8/12)

Texas College Offers Free Training to Laid-Off NASA Workers (Source: Pearland Journal)
San Jacinto College, near Houston, offers a variety of CPD short-term courses designed to provide the required certificates for employment in surrounding industries like oil and gas, manufacturing and petrochemical. Many are funded through the federal Department of Labor High Growth and Emerging Industries (HGEI) grant and are free of charge for those who qualify. (8/12)

Alien World is Blacker than Coal (Source: Space Daily)
Astronomers have discovered the darkest known exoplanet - a distant, Jupiter-sized gas giant known as TrES-2b. Their measurements show that TrES-2b reflects less than one percent of the sunlight falling on it, making it blacker than coal or any planet or moon in our solar system. "TrES-2b is considerably less reflective than black acrylic paint, so it's truly an alien world," said astronomer David Kipping. (8/12)

SpaceX Plans To Be Top World Rocket Maker (Source: Aviation Week)
While many beleaguered U.S. aerospace manufacturers are trimming back amid continuing uncertainty over the nation’s long-term goals, California-based SpaceX is ramping up plans to become the world’s largest producer of rocket engines in less than five years, manufacturing more units per year than any other single country.

Outlining SpaceX’s ambitious growth strategy, President Gwynne Shotwell says a production increase is aimed at supporting the assembly of engines for the coming flurry of Falcon 1 and 9 launches. The company also continues to bolster its workforce, passing the 1,500-employee mark for the first time at the start of August after seeing a 50% uptick in payroll last year.

“We have built about 60 engines so far this year, and will build another 40 by year-end,” says Shotwell. The company is targeting 400 engines per year. The expansion is built on booked revenues of $3 billion through 2017, part of which was earned by orders for 14 new Falcon 9 launches placed “within the last year,” she says. The launch manifest lists 40 sold flights, including 33 Falcon 9s, plus five options. (8/12)

Report: NASA Misused $1.4 Million in Tax Dollars (Source: Daily Press)
NASA misused $1.4 million in tax dollars by allowing 57 employees, including some at Langley Research Center in Hampton, to pursue costly academic degrees without clear benefit to the agency. So says a report issued by NASA’s Office of Inspector General, which provides oversight to the space agency and its 18,500 civil service employees.

The office examined $250 million that NASA spent from 2006 to 2010 on employee training. Specifically, the report focuses on 10,120 academic courses that 2,460 NASA employees took at a cost of $17 million. Inspectors found that 57 employees sought academic degrees outside of NASA’s established degree programs — none had service commitments, which bind them to working at NASA for a number of years in exchange for tuition costs. (8/12)

Florida Turbine Technologies Teams With Aerojet for Turbopump Demo (Source:
Aerojet and Florida Turbine Technologies successfully tested a state-of-the-art Upper Stage Engine Technology (USET) Hydrogen Turbopump Assembly (TPA) at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). They designed, manufactured, assembled and delivered the turbopump assembly to the AFRL test facility and successfully demonstrated steady state operation at 100 percent power. (8/12)

Hatch & Reid (and Others) Forcing NASA’s Hand (Source: TPIS)
Tea Party in Space reported that Orrin Hatch was circulating a letter in the senate during our nation’s darkest fiscal hour… now we know who he got to sign it. The signatures are: Harry Reid (NV), Orrin Hatch (UT), Mike Crapo (ID), James E. Risch (ID), and Dean Heller (NV). This is simply shameful. Our economy is on the brink of collapse and these five senators (four of which are republican) decide to try to force a bailout earmark on NASA and the nation. Why are these men in Washington? (8/11)

Astronauts: Don't Cry Because it's Over, Smile Because it Happened (Source: Huntsville Times)
Marshall Space Flight Center employees and their families overflowed the auditorium in their historic headquarters building Thursday to say good-bye to America's last space shuttle astronauts. Atlantis Commander Christopher Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim stopped at Marshall on a post-flight tour.

"We like to give you guys eight-and-a-half minutes of excitement," Marshall Director Robert Lightfoot said of the time from launch to main engine cutoff. The crew of the last shuttle mostly stuck to its prepared message, which it summarized with a quote from Dr. Seuss: "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." But the four admitted the transition to an uncertain future in space is hard, and the attention has been unexpected. (8/12)

Post-Shuttle, Space Coast Seeks New Identity (Source: Sunshine State News)
Signs of the departure of NASA's longest-running space program are plain to see -- from the forlorn "Thanks Shuttle Workers" posters in business windows to the outdated tours at Kennedy Space Center, where visitors are still besieged with reminders of the now Earth-bound shuttle. Florida's self-titled "Space Coast" is suffering an identity crisis.

As the home of Kennedy Space Center and the launch site for 135 space shuttle excursions over 30 years, Brevard County has long and enthusiastically embraced its status as one of the epicenters of the space industry. Now the area is struggling to define itself. Kennedy Space Center and NASA are still around, but thousands of space shuttle workers are laid off.

More than the economic sting of a layoff, many community leaders say the closing of the space shuttle program has forced a painful re-examination of what types of jobs, businesses, and tourism opportunities await the Space Coast. "We can no longer continue to define our space program by what NASA does," said Frank DiBello, the head of Space Florida. "It's a mistake and a mistake we've made twice." (8/12)

Review Board Sets Up to Probe HTV-2 Loss (Source: Aviation Week)
The U.S. Air Force and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are setting up an engineering review board to investigate the loss of the second, and final, Hypersonic Test Vehicle (HTV-2) shortly after launch from Vandenberg AFB on Aug. 11. (8/12)

NASA Creates Human Exploration And Operations Directorate (Source: NASA)
NASA has announced the creation of the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate. The new organization, which combines the Space Operations and Exploration Systems mission directorates, will focus on International Space Station operations and human exploration beyond low Earth orbit.

The new organization integrates the operation of NASA's in-space assets and current capabilities with planning for the agency's future, including the size and type of the workforce, facilities and contracts. The HEO Mission Directorate already is supporting space station operations and also will manage commercial crew and cargo developmental programs; construction of Orion; development of a new heavy lift rocket; and other programs. Associate Administrator Bill Gerstenmaier will lead HEO. (8/12)

Riots, Wild Markets: Did Space Storms Drive us Mad? (Source: Reuters)
Rollercoaster financial markets and the worst riots Britain has seen in decades have made it quite a week for a time of year that is usually so dead the newspapers are filled with "silly season" tales of amusing pet antics. Everyone is pointing fingers, but could the cause for all the madness really be the star at the center of our solar system?

The sun has been throwing bursts of highly charged particles into space in a phenomenon known as coronal mass ejections or CMEs. Some academics have claimed that such geomagnetic storms can affect humans, altering moods and leading people into negative behavior through effects on their biochemistry. Some studies have found evidence that hospital admissions for depression rise during geomagnetic storms and that incidents of suicide increase. (8/12)

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