October 4, 2011

NASA: Support Strong for Space Exploration (Source: News24)
The public still supports space exploration, despite the economic downturn and the retirement of the space shuttle, NASA has said. "I would not agree that public sector and Congress and others don't believe in space exploration - far from it," NASA administrator Charles Bolden said. He said that the US was determined to continue space exploration, but that NASA had to make efforts to reduce the costs.

"In the 2010 Authorization Act it was stated very clearly by bipartisan voice of the Congress: A way for us that included science, human space flight, exploration; aeronautics. I don't think the public sector has lost their interest; I think the public sector is demanding that we produce affordable systems, with very sounds plans that are sustainable - that will last over multiple administrations in the United States." (10/4)

Russia: Fourteen More Launches By Year's End (Source: Itar-Tass)
Space Troops commander Lt-Gen Oleg Ostapenko said Russia would perform some 14 booster rocket launches by the end of this year. When asked about the plans of launches for the 4th quarter of this year, the commander said, "some 14 launches of booster rockets will be performed from the Plesetsk and Baikonur cosmodromes. The year-end will be very dynamic." (10/4)

Halliburton Looking to Hire Ex-NASA Employees (Source: MyFOX Houston)
If you’re ex-NASA, chin up. Halliburton may have need of your services. The oil and gas services company is holding a recruiting event for former aerospace professionals in southeast Houston. Those interested can head over to the Work Force Solutions Aerospace Transition Center on Oct. 5 between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. An information session will be conducted in the morning and on-site job interviews will take place in the afternoon. (10/4)

Rocket Leaks Delay NPP Launch From California (Source: Space News)
Launch of the first next-generation U.S. civil polar-orbiting weather satellite has been pushed back two days after preliftoff tests revealed leaky components in the Delta 2 rocket that will loft the satellite. The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project (NPP) now is scheduled to launch Oct. 27 from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (10/4)

Russian "Rokot" Launches to Resume Soon (Source: RIA Novosti)
Launches of Rokot carrier rockets may resume in the near future, Commander of Russian Space Forces Lt. Gen. Oleg Ostapenko said. "Work on resuming the launches is in the final stage and we are working closely with Russian federal space agency Roskosmos. The causes of the Rokot's failure have been identified," Ostapenko said. A government commission will meet next week to hear reports from the investigators. "After this meeting we will plan our work and send a report to the defense minister," he said.

A Rokot launched on February 1, 2011 failed to put the Geo-IK-2 military satellite it was carrying into the intended orbit. All Rokot launches were suspended pending an investigation into the failure. The commission blamed the failure on a loss of radio contact caused by a malfunction in the onboard electric power supply. (10/4)

Launch of Russian Zenit Rocket with U.S. Satellite Postponed (Source: RIA Novosti)
The launch of the U.S. Intelsat 18 telecommunications satellite atop a Russian Zenit-2SB rocket has been postponed. The launch of the spacecraft from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan was scheduled for Wednesday, but Intelsat asked that it be moved to October 6. (10/4)

First Vega Starts Journey to Europe's Spaceport (Source: SpaceRef.com)
The first elements of Europe's new Vega small launcher left Italy to begin their long journey to Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana, marking the final step towards its inaugural flight in January. After several intense weeks of checking the hardware and equipment - and the shipping paperwork - Vega's Zefiro-23 and Zefiro-9 motors and the AVUM fourth stage were carefully packed and left Avio's facility in Colleferro, where they were built. (10/4)

Budget Battle Splits U.S. Scientists (Source: Space Daily)
U.S. scientists are split over congressional threats to cut funding for the overdue and over-budget James Webb Space Telescope, observers say. Telescope advocates say eliminating funding for the Webb project would cripple the quest for knowledge about the origins of the universe. "The project is the core of astronomy; not only astrophysics, and not just in the U.S., but in the world," said Alan Dressler, adding that ending the project would mean "a 20-year setback in astrophysics."

However, planetary scientists worry efforts by NASA and Webb supporters to request more money to save the telescope project will siphon federal dollars away from their own programs, such as robotic exploration of the planets. Republican Rep. Frank R. Wolf of Virginia, chairman of the House subcommittee that "zeroed out" Webb funding in the House version of NASA's budget in July, said it wasn't his intention to scuttle the project. "I don't want to kill James Webb," Wolf said. "I think the James Webb is very important.… I think it will be resolved." (10/4)

Spaceflight Symposium to Include Spaceport Managers (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
The International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS) will be held in New Mexico on Oct. 19-20 and will include a panel focused on spaceports. Jim Ball, NASA's development manager at KSC will be on the panel, along with Mark Bontrager with Space Florida.

Tom Berard, formerly of White Sands Missile Range and now executive director of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base will be there too. Edwards and Mojave Air and Space Port are contiguous just as White Sands Missile Range and Spaceport America are. Christine Anderson, executive director of Spaceport America, will be there too. Karin Nilsdotter of Spaceport Sweden will round out the panel. (10/4)

US ‘Must Partner on Space Goals’ (Source: Business Day)
The US needed to collaborate to achieve its goals in the space industry, the head of NASA said at the International Astronautical Congress. "No one nation will be able to achieve what we want to achieve alone," he said. But Mr Bolden reiterated that he was unable to enter into bilateral agreements with China. He was responding to questions about whether China’s role in space science was a threat to the US’s leadership. China was absent from the plenary session of global space agency heads. (10/4)

Saturn's Moon Has Never-Ending Winter (Soure: Nature)
Jets of water vapour and ice shooting from the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus have been active for up to 100 million years, boosting the odds that the moon harbours a liquid ocean beneath its icy surface, a study suggests. If the existence of such an ocean is confirmed, Enceladus will become one of the most promising places in the Solar System in which to search for signs of extraterrestrial life. (10/3)

KSC, EDC Renew Partnership (Source: Florida Today)
Kennedy Space Center renewed an agreement with local economic development officials allowing them to partner on potential space-related or high-tech business opportunities. KSC and the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast signed a five-year Space Act Agreement outlining activity that includes regular meetings between senior staff members "to discuss economic development matters of mutual interest," according to a NASA statement.

"This agreement reinforces our joint goal of maintaining and enhancing Brevard County's vigorous activity in support of the nation's preeminent gateway to space," said EDC board chairman Bob Whelen. NASA said managers from KSC's Center Planning and Development Office would collaborate with the EDC on potential business partnerships, including commercial use of KSC facilities available since the shuttle program's retirement this year. (10/4)

India's New Spaceport: The Offshore Option (Source: Soaring Over Shar)
For weeks, speculation has been swirling about India's plans to build a new launch site. Selecting a proper site somewhere close to the Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota might seem like the most logical solution, but other sites along India's east coast might prove to be suitable. The Integrated Test Range (ITR) on Orissa's coast - along with Wheeler Island close by to the south - seems a long shot.

ISRO's list does not include an offshore option or at least none has been mentioned to date. The curious coincidence that sparked this column surrounds the restart of the Sea Launch venture which, after months of uncertainty and critical financial restructuring, conducted a successful launch late last month in the Pacific Ocean, the company's first launch since 2009. Keep in mind that India's southwest coast and major southern ports are much closer to the Equator than Long Beach, California which serves as Sea Launch's home port. (10/4)

Former Shuttle Workers Face Uncertain Future (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
By next summer, employment at Kennedy Space Center is expected to fall to its lowest level since before the Apollo program blasted astronauts to the moon more than 42 years ago — a fact that doesn't surprise folks on the Space Coast but still causes many to wince. It has been nearly eight years since then-President George W. Bush announced plans to retire the space shuttle, yet the region still is struggling to find good jobs for thousands of workers whose paychecks disappeared with the end of the shuttle era.

NASA officials predict the KSC work force will number roughly 8,200 next year — about half the 15,000 employed there in 2008. A few hundred contractors now are giving the shuttles last rites before they, too, join their former colleagues in a brutal job market. Technicians such as Lew Jamieson, who lost his job in July, have major doubts about the future. The president of the local machinist union has sent more than 50 résumés to prospective employers but has yet to connect.

"I'm not having much success. I'm not finding anything that matches my skill set," said Jamieson, whose last job included launch-systems maintenance. "By and large, there is no work out there for people in the trade." He said several former shuttle workers have found jobs at Disney or a new Boeing plant in South Carolina. But few are getting work that pays near the $70,000 or more they received at KSC. "Some people are working at Lowe's to buy groceries," he said. (10/3)

Florida Space Committee Blasts State Schools' Research Status (Source: Sunshine State News)
Florida pays a vital role in the nation’s space program, but the state sputters when it comes to launching its young people into the aerospace industry. Florida schools are not among the top 20 universities receiving federal support for science and engineering R&D, according to the National Science Foundation. Members of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs, Space and Domestic Security say that needs to change quickly if Florida is to remain competitive in aerospace.

There was no talk Monday of state funding for high-level research, but senators expressed a need for the state to be competitive as Space Florida works to grow Florida’s space industry. Committee Chairman Sen. Thad Altman, R-Melbourne, said the state has done a good job recruiting life-science research businesses. But, he added, to succeed in the aerospace field, from designing aircraft parts to satellite development, the talent needs to be grown.

“I’ve seen numbers that show us 21st in the nation in terms of space research,” Altman said. “We’re the fourth largest state in the union. We have the world’s premier space center. We should at least be in the top five. We should be No. 1.” Farrukh Alvi, director of Florida State University’s Florida Center for Advanced Aeropropulsion, said if the committee and Senate want to build the research field, they must be committed to the endeavor. (10/4)

NASA Throws Michoud a SLS Lifeline (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA says they will be building several SLS components at the Michoud Assembly Facility, including manufacturing core stage and upper stage, the instrument ring and integrating engines with core and upper stages. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) said: "I’ve been working for years with the Louisiana delegation to ensure Michoud remains well positioned for this kind of work, and with local companies in the high-tech Stennis-Michoud corridor to ensure the area remains a vital part of the space program.”

In August, Vitter helped lead a meeting in Slidell of the Stennis-Michoud Aerospace Corridor Alliance, a group he founded to promote regional development in connection with the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and the Stennis Space Center near the Mississippi-Louisiana border.

Editor's Note: At the SLS Industry Day in Huntsville on Sep. 29, a NASA official from Michoud said the state of Louisiana provided $63 million for tooling and equipment at the facility, and an additional $60 million may be available from the state. He also said the state will provide financial incentives for companies to locate operations in the area to support SLS manufacturing. (10/4)

Studies of Universe's Expansion Win Physics Nobel (Source: MSNBC)
Three U.S.-born scientists won the Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for overturning a fundamental assumption in their field by showing that the expansion of the universe is constantly accelerating. Their discovery created a new portrait of the eventual fate of the universe: a place of super-low temperatures and black skies unbroken by the light of galaxies moving away from each other at incredible speed.

The acceleration is driven by what scientists call dark energy, a cosmic force that is one of the great mysteries of the universe. Galaxies that are 3 million light years away from Earth move at a speed of around 44 miles per second (70 kilometers per second). Galaxies that are 6 million light years away move twice as fast. (10/4)

NASA Invites Students To Name Moon-Bound Spacecraft (Source: NASA)
NASA has a class assignment for U.S. students: help the agency give the twin spacecraft headed to orbit around the moon new names. The naming contest is open to students in kindergarten through 12th grade at schools in the United States. Entries must be submitted by teachers using an online entry form. Length of submissions can range from a short paragraph to a 500-word essay. The entry deadline is Nov. 11. Click here. (10/4) http://grail.nasa.gov/contest

Space Expedition Curaçao Offering Space Trips in The Lynx (Source: The Australian)
Tourists are being offered the chance to co-pilot a trip to space for $98,000. Space Expedition Curaçao is set to rival Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic with expeditions to space at less than half the price. The experience provides a one-on-one “co-pilot” experience in the Lynx spacecraft, and a panoramic view of the Earth. Passengers will be taken 100km into the air and experience weightlessness for four minutes before gradually gliding back to earth at the end of an hour-long flight. (10/4)

Dream is Over for Virgin Galactic Space Tourist (Source: Miami Herald)
Venture capitalist Alan Walton has trekked to the North Pole, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and skydived over Mount Everest. A hop into space to enjoy a few minutes of weightlessness would have been the ultimate adventure. After waiting seven years to fly aboard Virgin Galactic's spaceline, Walton gave up on the dream and asked for a $200,000 ticket refund on his 75th birthday this past spring.

Walton, who was among the first 100 customers to sign up, is not as spry as he used to be, and he's concerned about the project delays. "This was a decision I wish I didn't have to make," he said recently. But "it was time." (10/4)

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