September 4, 2011

The Incandescent Hypocrisy of Mike Griffin (Source: Commonplace Book)
We need to compare Mike Griffin's current complaints with NASA's budget request for 2008, when Griffin was still in charge, and his Constellation program was asking for $3 billion. Or what was actually enacted, when Constellation was funded at $2.7 billion and the full exploration program at $3.3 billion, with about $1 billion of that for Ares I, Griffin's contemporary version of the shuttle derived SLS. This is, of course, a funding level Griffin now claims is clearly inadequate.

This should be compared with NASA's 2012 budget of $3.9 Billion for exploration, plus an additional $1 Billion for space technology, a category not itemized in Griffin's 2008 budget. Griffin might respond that his own exploration budget for 2012 was much more generous, at $7.1 Billion. He achieved this in part by shrinking the share of NASA's budget devoted to science from 28% in 2007 to 24% in 2012. Also, he made optimistic assumptions. His budget assumed that the Shuttle would be retired by the end of 2010, that 2012 STS shutdown costs would be minimal, and he significantly underestimated the cost of crew and cargo resupply for ISS.

Also, he assumed that a NASA owned launcher and manned spacecraft would be able to reach LEO no later than 2015, so there was no reason to for NASA to fund a commercial alternative to take crews to ISS. Griffin was wrong on every single point. Why should he be given credence on other questions? (9/4)

NewSpace Nation: An Update on America's Entrepreneurial Space Industry (Source:
NewSpace Nation: America's Emerging Entrepreneurial Space Industry is now available in its 2nd Edition. Written by Jeff Krukin, former Executive Director of the Space Frontier Foundation, the book adds new information about NASA's support for NewSpace and descriptions of companies across the different industry sectors. If you want a quick yet thorough review of the industry and insight about new business opportunities, click here to learn more and place an order. (9/4)

NASA Gives Small Suborbital Rocket Company a Big Opportunity (Source: Parabolic Arc)
When NASA announced the selection of seven companies to integrate and fly technology payloads on suborbital vehicles, the list included most of the usual suspects such as Virgin Galactic, XCOR and Armadillo. It also included a couple of lesser known companies, including Whittinghill Aerospace. The Camarillo, Calif.-based company has a website with a single page featuring nothing but its logo. However, it has a good pedigree.

The company is owned by George Whittinghill, an MIT graduate who was formerly chief technologist for Virgin Galactic, CTO at Space Launch Corporation, and a flight crew instructor at NASA. Whittinghill has been developing a four-stage nanosat launch vehicle that is composed of a cluster of identical N2O-fed hybrid rocket propulsion modules. The company has received funding through NASA’s Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program. (9/4)

Minuteman-3 Launch Planned on Sep. 21 From California (Source: Launch Alert)
The vehicle will probably send an unarmed warhead on a ballistic trajectory to the central Pacific. The Defense Department will release the launch window and other details a few days in advance. (9/2)

John Kelly: 'What If' Just Became Reality (Source: Florida Today)
The what-ifs, the risk analyses and the doomsday scenarios were being mapped out from the day in 2004 when then-President George W. Bush announced the United States would retire its space shuttle fleet in 2010. How would the partner nations maintain the Space Station without NASA's space shuttles. The complex was designed and built, at a combined cost of tens of billions of dollars, with the idea that the space shuttle orbiters would be delivering people, supplies and science experiments regularly.

But NASA and its partners all said they would figure it out. The countries would rely upon a steady flight of Russian Progress cargo tugs and Soyuz crew taxis -- supplemented with less frequent visits by Japanese and European cargo haulers -- until the Americans came through with a replacement system. That was going to take at least four, five, maybe six years, and those with a vested interest in the space station program began wondering aloud what might happen if Russia's fleet were somehow grounded for an extended period of time. The primary answer from government officials was basically, "That won't happen." Click here. (9/4)

GRAIL Satellites Ready for Launch From Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source:
With less than one week to go before the launch of the twin GRAIL lunar satellites from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL, NASA has completed the pre-launch flight readiness reviews for both GRAIL and the veteran Delta II rocket which will propel the spacecrafts into their cruise to Earth’s only natural satellite. The launch is scheduled for Sep. 8 at 8:37 a.m. from Launch Complex 17 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (9/4)

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