September 3, 2011

AIA, Machinists Union Urge Obama to Protect Aerospace, Defense Jobs (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The International Association of Machinists and the Aerospace Industries Association sent a letter to President Obama Sept. 1 urging him to preserve the aerospace and defense industry and its high-skilled workforce. “As you finalize proposals to save and create American jobs, we urge you to consider the vital role that our second to none aerospace and defense industry has played in America’s global leadership, and to keep in mind the many thousands of aerospace and defense workers that face the loss of their jobs in these difficult economic times,” the letter urged. (9/3)

NASA Launches Energy Challenge (Source: NASA)
NASA, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Department of State, and NIKE, Inc. have partnered on a unique initiative called LAUNCH. The LAUNCH: Energy Challenge, has begun and focuses on sustainable energy challenges for the developed and developing worlds. LAUNCH’s mission is to search for, showcase and support innovators poised for potential large-scale impact on humanity’s most pressing sustainability challenges.

LAUNCH: Energy seeks transformative innovations to improve access to energy, energy efficiency, and/or energy technologies, for both the developed and developing worlds. LAUNCH is seeking innovations in the following categories: Energy Generation; Energy Harvesting and Storage; Industrial Application; Communication applications; Financing; Education; and Deployment. Click here. (9/3)

Why We Need More Space Adventures (Source: io9)
Two depressing facts became apparent the other day: 1) NASA is so desperate to get people excited about space travel, they were willing to consider collaborating on the horror mockumentary Apollo 18. 2) The fall 2011 season is the first time there's been no TV show, on any network, featuring people on spaceships, since probably the mid-1980s. What's happened to us? We haven't just lost our space shuttle program, we've lost our zest for space adventure altogether, at least in TV and movies. At this point, it's as good a time as any to list what we actually love about space opera. Click here. (9/3)

Leader of Astronaut Memorial Foundation Sets Retirement Date (Source: Florida Today)
The Astronauts Memorial Foundation has begun a search to replace Stephen Feldman, who will retire next summer to end a 13-year run as president and CEO of the Kennedy Space Center-based nonprofit. "We don't have formal applicants yet, but we have a number of phone calls from very good people who have expressed interest in the position," Feldman said.

Mike McCulley, a former shuttle pilot and retired CEO of United Space Alliance, leads a four-person search committee. The other members are Jay Honeycutt, former Kennedy Space Center director, Lowell Grissom, brother of original seven astronaut Gus Grissom, and Bill Potter, a local attorney. The job posting calls for at least 10 years of experience in a space-related field or in education. No salary range is posted.

Florida Today last fall reported Feldman's total compensation exceeded $300,000, nearly a fifth of the foundation's annual budget and about three times the average in Florida and nationally for similarly-sized nonprofits. Feldman said the issue wasn't a factor in his decision to retire. The search committee will accept applications through Nov. 30 and plans to make a selection by March. (9/2)

Huntsville Team Completes Critical NASA Contract Milestone (Source: Moonandback)
The Dynetics-led Rocket City Space Pioneers (RCSP) Google Lunar X PRIZE team has successfully completed a critical NASA contract milestone by delivering rocket engine hot-fire test data on Dynetics’ newly developed “green” rocket engine. NASA, through its Innovative Lunar Demonstrations Data (ILDD) contract, selected Dynetics in October to supply flight component data to enable the development of future human and robotic lander vehicles and exploration systems. (9/3)

Reuse, Reliability Will Launch Future, Study Says (Source: NASA)
Driving down the price of taking people and cargo into space or to the other side of the world in two hours will depend on developing a system so reliable and reusable that a thousand flights or more can take place in a year, a space launch expert told a group of engineers and others Aug. 31 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

It's not a launch scenario envisioned for the immediate future, but it could develop in the decades afterward, Jay Penn of The Aerospace Corporation said during his "Beyond Next Generation Access to Space" presentation. The company studied potential business cases for pursuing different launch strategies. KSC, with unique facilities such as the Vehicle Assembly Building and a runway long enough to host space-going vehicles, could find itself in key support roles for the new spacecraft.

Jim Ball, the deputy of Kennedy's Center Planning and Development Office, said his office is leading the effort to craft a future development concept and revised master plan for KSC to position it for future needs. The plan will provide a guide for the overall development of the center for the next several decades, Ball said. (9/3)

NASA Gives Public New Internet Tool To Explore The Solar System (Source: SpaceRef)
NASA is giving the public the power to journey through the solar system using a new interactive Web-based tool. The "Eyes on the Solar System" interface combines video game technology and NASA data to create an environment for users to ride along with agency spacecraft and explore the cosmos. Screen graphics and information such as planet locations and spacecraft maneuvers use actual space mission data.

The virtual environment uses the Unity game engine to display models of planets, moons, asteroids, comets and spacecraft as they move through our solar system. With keyboard and mouse controls, users cruise through space to explore anything that catches their interest. A free browser plug-in, available at the site, is required to run the Web application. Click here. (9/3)

Search for Life on Mars Heats Up With Focus on High-tech Instruments (Source: SpaceRef)
Scientists are expressing confidence that questions about life on Mars, which have captured human imagination for centuries, finally may be answered, thanks in part to new life-detection tools up to 1,000 times more sensitive than previous instruments.

"The bottom line is that if life is out there, the high-tech tools of chemistry will find it sooner or later," said Jeffrey Bada. "It certainly is starting to look like there may be something alive out there somewhere, with Mars being the most accessible place to search," Bada added. Bada is a strong advocate for postponing future manned missions to Mars until the unmanned missions get enough information to land astronauts in an area most hospitable to life. He expressed concern, however, that NASA budget cuts could jeopardize such future unmanned missions. (9/3)

Next U.S. Ambassador to India - A Space Savvy California Politician? (Source: Soaring over SHAR)
A letter written by a Democratic Congressman from California - Rep. Brad Sherman - to President Obama would seeks to place former California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante on the list of suitable and capable candidates to serve as the next U.S. ambassador to India. Among other things, the letter calls attention to Bustamante's "extensive work on issues of international trade and economic development."

Of course, you would also expect someone who was elected to the second highest office in a big traditional aerospace and hot "New Space" state like California to be fairly well versed in the details surrounding space-related developments. Bustamante hails from the state where the fast-paced launch venture SpaceX is headquartered, for example. Bustamante occupied a seat on the Executive Board of the Aerospace States Association (ASA) five years ago. The ASA is a dynamic organization, but not very loud. And in 2006, Bustamante served as an ASA Vice Chair.

However, the point here is not to declare that Bustamante's viewpoint is the same as the ASA's, or to say that he enjoys universal support from the entire California space sector or that he is going to automatically ascend as the next ambassador to India. Instead, the goal here is to draw attention to the notion that holding space credentials of any kind might matter more now than in the past especially when it comes to participating on the front lines of U.S. diplomacy - in India and elsewhere. (9/3)

Editorial: Why Space Exploration Still Matters (Source: Baltimore Sun)
So where do we go from here? Presently, our White House has no vision, no imagination. It is devoid of inspiration and is as empty of discovery as the vastness of space itself. Are we Americans able to accept this loss of leadership as commonplace? Are we willing to accept taxi rides to the astronautical limits of other governments as status quo, or will we change the dynamics of our own unsurpassed abilities to regain our place in space science and exploration?

Today, we are faced with very tough challenges. Some say, "Why bother when we have earthly concerns?" I say we must regain the cosmos because our grandchildren are entitled to know the wonder of a "Buck Rodgers" coloring book and all the fantastic imagination that creates the next space frontiersman and scientific breakthroughs. After all, our children are the seeds of future glory, inspiration, and hope for all mankind. (9/3)

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