September 7, 2011

Companies Race to Control the Commercial Space Industry (Source: Fast Company)
A Soyuz rocket recently failed--surprising news, as it's generally considered a rather reliable rocket. In the process it pitched tons of vital food, engineering, fuel and air supplies for the International Space Station into the wastelands of Siberia. And at high speed--the ISS may have to be unmanned for a short interval as a result, despite billions of dollars and decades of effort. In the post-Shuttle era, this event is critical: It puts extra emphasis on the emerging commercial space industry. Click here. (9/7)

World's First Commercial Spaceport is Almost Finished (Source: Daily Mail)
Barely more than a century ago, man had yet to crack the art of flight. Despite his best efforts (and a few notable failures), he remained pinned to solid earth. And yet now, just 108 years after the Wright brothers took to the skies, humanity is almost ready for the first commercial trips into space. The initial phase of construction on the world's first commercial spaceport is now 90 percent complete.

The 1,800-acre Spaceport America site, in Las Cruces, New Mexico, is the home base for Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson's most ambitious business venture yet. It already boasts a runway stretching to nearly two miles long, a futuristic styled terminal hanger, and a dome-shaped Space Operations Center. The work is now just months away from completion, according to a spaceport spokesman, and is set to be done by the end of the year, well in time for the first expected Virgin Galactic spaceflights in 2013. (9/7)

India to Launch 2 Satellites This Month (Source: Daily Bhaskar)
When Isro's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle blasts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota later this month, the dreams of about 100 students would be realized. For over three years now, students from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK) and the Chennai-based SRM University have been working on the design and development of two nano satellites that will be launched. (9/7)

India Gives Go-Ahead for New Spaceport (Source: NDTV)
The government has given the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) the go-ahead to start a search for a new rocket launch pad. The current launch pad at Sriharikota faces problems in launching remote sensing satellites, as a lot of rocket fuel is wasted in avoiding a flight that passes over Sri Lanka.

This is being done to try and capture the lucrative launch market. India hopes to launch astronauts in the next decade. During a recent debate in the Lok Sabha said that ISRO has so far launched 64 satellites and of these seven failed. Using Indian launch vehicles, ISRO has so far launched 64 satellites - 38 national satellites and 26 international, the minister said. (9/7)

U.S. Space Scientist Pleads Guilty in Espionage Case (Source: Space News)
U.S. government space scientist Stewart David Nozette has pleaded guilty to one count of attempted espionage for trying to sell classified information to an FBI agent posing as an Israeli intelligence officer, the Associated Press reported Sep. 7.

The plea agreement includes a sentence of 13 years in prison, with credit for two years of time served, AP said. Nozette has been in jail since his arrest in 2009. Nozette had high-level security clearances during decades of government work on science and space projects at NASA, the Energy Department and the National Space Council. He was known for his involvement with President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative missile defense effort. (9/7)

White House Has Sticker Shock on Exploration Program (Source: Space Policy Online)
The Wall Street Journal reports that the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is experiencing "sticker shock" over the cost of the new Space Launch System and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle being designed to take humans beyond low Earth orbit.

The article says that President Obama "may announce a decision on what space program the White House will ask Congress to fund in the next few weeks." The discussion centers on whether Congress will support the "more than $35 billion NASA inititally projected" through 2025 for the SLS and MPCV, or to ask for more money to accelerate the program and provide results sooner. An August 19 NASA budget analysis reportedly shows the latter approach could increase program costs by nearly 80 percent to $62 billion. (9/7)

Hispasat Picks Ariane 5 To Launch Amazonas 3 Satellite (Source: Space News)
Europe’s Arianespace consortium will launch Spanish satellite fleet operator Hispasat’s Amazonas 3 tri-band telecommunications satellite aboard a European Ariane 5 rocket in late 2012 or early 2013 under a contract Arianespace and Hispasat announced Sep. 7. (9/7)

So You Think You Can Launch (Source: Science 2.0)
Interorbital lists their filled manifest for their first N30 launch. This is everyone who is building a Tubesat or Cubesat for their first private launch. Put another way, these are all of Calliope's kinfolk. Pioneers, every one of them. There are 5 Cubesat teams: one domestic uni (UC Irvine), one Danish Google Lunar X Prize team (Team EuroLuna), and 3 international universities: Vietnam, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia universities. Click here to see the manifested payloads. (9/7)

Heavy-Lift Price Tag Now $62 Billion - Senators Scrambling at Pork BBQ (Source: Tea Party in Space)
Well the Pork BBQ put on by Senators Shelby, Hatch, Hutchison, Nelson, Vitter, Cochran, Wicker, Reid, Heller, Crapo, and Risch just got real. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Space Launch system will now cost $62 billion. This gives a brand new meaning to the old line, "When pigs fly".

There is nothing fiscally responsible, limited in government, or accessing the free markets about this program. These senators are destroying NASA for their own personal greed. There are so many alternatives to SLS and yet these senators are blinded by power. To these senators, NASA is not Humanity's space program but their own personal slush funds that have been flowing freely for over 40 years.

TPIS has reached out to our Tea Party Caucus members on Capital Hill. We do not want to kill NASA, we want to save NASA. The fiscal reality is that if we allow these senators to continue down this path, we will not have American human space all. (9/7)

Six-Ton Satellite Rushes to the Earth. Moscow in the Hazard Area (Source: Novosti Obshchestvo)
The remainders of 6-ton American satellite UARS could fall to the earth within two weeks in an unguided state, in the strip from 57 degrees of south latitude northern to 57 degrees. Moscow enters into hazard area. However, this probability is small, and given the dense layers of the atmosphere, most of the satellite would probably burn away before impact. (9/7)

NASA Minimum Astronaut Staff Not Enough, Report Says (Source: Houston Chronicle)
NASA needs to keep more astronauts on staff than planned even though no one is being launched from the home turf, a new report urged Wednesday. Many astronauts have retired or quit with this year's end of the space shuttle program. But a robust corps still is needed, the report noted, to fill crew slots aboard the International Space Station and help forge the way for exploration in the decades ahead.

NASA's astronaut corps peaked at 149 in 2000. It's now down to 60. NASA projects it will need a minimum 55 to 60 astronauts over the next five years. But the National Research Council warns that may not be enough. Last year, NASA asked the council to look at the role and size of the astronaut corps during this transition time. A committee of 13 experts - five of them former astronauts - conducted the study. (9/7)

Editorial: Let’s Bring the Astronauts Home (Source: NY Books)
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station said this week that human activity on the station may soon be suspended, because the Russian rockets that are now the only way to transport astronauts and cargo there are no longer reliable. While many people view the prospect of the astronauts ending their work at the space station as an extraordinary loss, I am not among them. I think that the station was a hundred billion dollar folly and the sooner it is abandoned the better. (9/7)

NASA Encouraging Air Force to Help Fund Transport Demo (Source: AIA)
NASA is striving to persuade the Air Force or another partner to help fund a flight demonstrator for a new transport aircraft configuration. Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator for aeronautics at NASA, says the agency's aeronautics research budget is too low to fund such a large-scale demonstrator. However, potential partners want NASA to put in a significant contribution before they will consider getting involved. (9/7)

United Technologies Could Sell Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (to ATK or Aerojet?) (Source: Reuters)
United Technologies has received potential buyer interest for its rocket engine business, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, and is considering a range of strategic options including a sale of the business, a senior executive said on Tuesday. People familiar with the industry have told Reuters that Alliant Techsystems and Gencorp (Aerojet's parent) would be among the most logical buyers for (9/7)

SpaceTEC Wins Lease Renewal at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (Source: SpaceTEC)
SpaceTEC has received a lease renewal for five years from the Commander of the 45th Space Wing to house the center's headquarters, certification activities, small launch vehicle and microsatellite processing, and technical education services through July 31, 2016. SpaceTEC also anticipates providing shop space to UAV operators in anticipation of growing interest for some of their activities from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport.

With support from the FAA, Air Force, NASA, and other agencies, SpaceTEC has established a nationwide network of academic institutions to provide training for launch vehicle technicians, leading to a SpaceTEC certification that is recognized by space industry employers. (9/7)

Shelby Pushes NASA Funds (Source: Politico)
Even as Sen Richard Shelby (R-AL) positioned himself as a fiscal hawk in Washington, strongly opposing the bank bailout in 2008 and voting against the debt ceiling compromise last month, he’s been successful in office largely because of his fiercely parochial nature. Throughout the state, buildings at university campuses, and some federal facilities, bear his name. He represents one of the remaining old-bull GOP lawmakers protective over spending in his state, butting heads with the anti-spending tea party movement.

The $185 million in earmarks for Huntsville in the past few years has gone for a bevy of projects — to help the local police with its communications systems, for facilities at a dental clinic, to bolster an art museum as part of downtown redevelopment and to develop a missile attack early warning system, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense.

The Marshall center was a beneficiary of Shelby’s earmarks, as well — including $4.3 million in 2009 and $6.8 million in 2008 — for projects like the creation of a nuclear power system and for robotics exploration. NASA, as a whole, won $58 million in Shelby earmarks in 2010, according to the watchdog group. The push for the rocket comes as the space agency is facing serious budget cuts. Critics of the rocket project fear that it’ll suck up dollars the Obama administration wants to give private companies looking for contracts to serve as taxis into lower orbit and to the International Space Station, which is about 210 miles from Earth. (9/6)

Satellites Improve Disaster Monitoring Efficiency in China (Source: Xinhua)
Two small disaster monitoring satellites, launched in 2008, have allowed China to more rapidly monitor natural disasters with greater range, said the National Commission for Disaster Reduction Tuesday. Since the two satellites were put into operation in November 2008, they have provided government agencies with disaster information three to six times faster than previously, said a statement from the commission office. (9/7)

Newly Found Star Puzzles Scientists (Source: New York Times)
A newly discovered star in the constellation Leo — too faint to be seen through any but the most powerful amateur telescopes — has so little mass and such a low level of metal elements that scientists were previously unaware that such a star could exist. The star has a mass slightly less than the Sun’s. It is estimated to be more than 13 billion years old, possibly making it the oldest star ever found. (9/7)

Editorial: Are We Committed to U.S. in Space? (Source: Pasadena Star-News)
In this part of California, we're often more excited about and involved in our nation's robotic space efforts than in the manned program. But we know that important science, especially, requires people in orbit. Given the problems of relying on the Russians, is our country committed to keeping people safely in space, or is it not? To keep up our momentum of half a century of beginning to explore the solar system, to stay on the right side of history, we say that the answer should be that we are committed indeed. (9/7)

Meet a Moon-Walker & Uhura of Star Trek at KSC (Source: Florida Today)
Crowds at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex viewing Thursday's scheduled launch of the GRAIL mission to the moon also will be able to meet an Apollo moon-walker and a Starship Enterprise officer. The visitor complex has scheduled four days of activities, beginning today, surrounding the mission, including Thursday's appearances by Apollo 16 astronaut Charlie Duke Jr. and Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Uhura on the original "Star Trek" TV series. (9/7)

Ultra-Green Building Displays Space Technology to Save Energy (Source: Mountain View Voice)
NASA Ames Research Center is putting the finishing touches on a new flagship building that may be the greenest in the federal government, thanks to a bit of technology developed for space flight. The "Sustainability Base" located just inside the main gate at Moffett Field is a crescent-shaped pair of buildings wrapped in an external skeleton of I-beams. "My expectation is that it will be the highest performing building in the federal government," said Steve Zornetzer, associate director at Ames. (9/7)

Minotaur Launch Campaign Begins at Alaska Spaceport (Source:
Preparations to launch a U.S. Navy communications satellite have kicked off in Alaska three weeks before a souped-up Minotaur rocket will pilot the spacecraft to an orbit 7,500 miles above Earth. Technicians began transferring the three lower stages of the Minotaur 4 rocket to Launch Pad No. 1 at Kodiak Launch Complex on Monday, kicking off assembly of the solid-fueled launcher ahead of its Sept. 27 blastoff. (9/6)

Jacobs Wins Stennis Services Contract Extension (Source:
NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi has exercised an option of the Facility Operating Services Contract (FOSC) with Jacobs Technology Inc. The FOSC provides a broad range of services to support NASA missions and more than 30 resident agencies sharing and using Stennis facilities and services. The cost-plus-incentive fee award term 2 is valued at $58.7 million. (9/6)

Becker Tapped to Lead ISS National Lab Group (Source: SPACErePORT)
Dr. Jeanne Becker, chief scientist and vice president at the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI), will represent the Center for Advancement of Science In Space (CASIS) as its executive director. CASIS was established this year as part of a winning bid to run the International Space Station National Laboratory. Becker is also affiliated with Astrogenetix, Inc., a sponsor of recent ISS research focused on vaccine development. (9/6)

Rocket Launch Scheduled Sept. 8 From NASA Wallops (Source:
A test flight of a NASA Terrier suborbital rocket motor will be conducted between 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Sep. 8 from the agency's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The backup launch days are September 9 and 10. The rocket will only be visible in the Wallops area. This launch will not be webcast since the Terrier motor burn will be visible for only 6 seconds. (9/6)

NASA Lands in Colorado With International Space Station Events (Source:
NASA will share the accomplishments, promise and opportunities for research aboard the International Space Station through an exhibit and a series of events in Colorado during September and October. Click here for information. (9/6)

NASA Hopes Hard Sci-Fi Will Inspire Future Space Force (Source: Scientific American)
"I'm into hard sci-fi." That's Roman from the television show Party Down​, a noted advocate of the scientifically sound brand of fiction known as hard sci-fi. In one episode Roman confronts Star Trek​'s George Takei​ about the mind meld. "So was there a biophysical principle behind it? Because it kind of seemed like magic. And magic, you know, has no place in sci-fi."

Roman might approve of a forthcoming line of science fiction books from NASA and Tor-Forge books. The partnership aims to create scientifically accurate novels and to get the word out about NASA missions present and future. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center​ is hosting a workshop in November where authors can learn about NASA missions and the science behind them.

The partnership aims to create scientifically accurate novels and to get the word out about NASA missions present and future. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center​ is hosting a workshop in November where authors can learn about NASA missions and the science behind them. (9/6)

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