November 3, 2011

NASA-Sponsored Study Describes How Spaceflight Impacts Vision (Source: Space Daily)
A new study sponsored by NASA finds that space flights lasting six months or more can cause a spectrum of changes in astronauts' visual systems. Some problems, including blurry vision, appear to persist long after astronauts' return to Earth. The results are affecting plans for long-duration manned space voyages, such as a trip to Mars. Click here. (11/3)

Alexander Saltman to Lead Commercial Spaceflight Federation (Source: CSF)
Eric Anderson, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, is pleased to announce that the Federation has selected Dr. Alexander Saltman as the organization’s Executive Director. Saltman is a physicist who has most recently served as the Legislative Director for Congressman Adam Schiff of California. His appointment will be effective Nov. 14.

Saltman succeeds John Gedmark, the organization’s founding Executive Director, who is departing to pursue a new opportunity. Separately, the Commercial Spaceflight Federation is currently conducting an executive search for a new President to replace Rear Admiral Craig Steidle, who stepped down earlier this fall for medical reasons. (11/3)

NASA's Giant Rocket to Use Existing Launch Platform, Shuttle Crawlers (Source:
NASA intends to upgrade one of its Apollo-era treaded crawlers and an inactive mobile platform built for the canceled Ares launcher program to support the agency's colossal super-rocket, officially called the Space Launch System, in time for a test flight in 2017. The $500 million launch platform will have to be altered to support the heavier weight and additional thrust of the heavy-lifter, according to NASA officials.

One of NASA's crawler-transporters will be made ready to haul the massive rocket and mobile platform between the Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building and launch pad 39B. Crawler-Transporter No. 2 will receive steel stiffeners and braces to address overstressed structural areas, increasing its lift load to 18 million pounds and extending its service life another 20 years.

Other upgrades will made to the crawler's jack, elevation and leveling system, which uses hydraulic actuators to keep rockets level on the four-mile journey between the VAB and the launch pad, including the trip up the incline to the pad surface. The diesel-powered crawler's roller bearings have reached the end of their fatigue life and will also be replaced. (11/3)

NASA Plans Next SLS "Industry Day" at Michoud (Source: SPACErePORT)
The NASA Office of Procurement will be hosting an Industry Day on Nov. 14 at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. This Industry Day is being held to provide an overview of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) Program, SLS Procurement Strategy, the MAF Business Model and Affordability Initiatives, as well as facilities and capabilities of MAF, and a discussion on the MAF Contracting Process.

Editor's Note: At the Sep. 29 SLS Industry Day at Marshall Space Flight Center, a Michoud representative said Michoud Assembly Facility will support SLS with "significant State of Louisiana investment in manufacturing capability." $62 million has already been invested by Louisiana at Michoud for tooling and equipment. Another $60 million could be available from that state, he said. (11/3)

NASA Seeks Info on On-Orbit Robotic Servicing Capabilities (Source: SpaceRef)
Maintaining existing and growing commercial, governmental, and national security orbital assets indicates a need for extending the development and dissemination of on-orbit robotic servicing capabilities for existing and future spacecraft. NASA acknowledges that the commercial satellite industry has the proven capability to finance, design, develop, integrate, operate and own complex satellite systems. NASA is soliciting information to assist in developing strategies for on-orbit robotic servicing capabilities for existing and future spacecraft. Click here. (11/3)

Groups Seek Support for Adding Spaceport Infrastructure Funding in FDOT Budget (Source: SaveSpace)
The Florida Department of Transportation's Tentative Work Program for FY 2013-2017 was finalized on October 31 and currently has no funds budgeted for Space infrastructure for the next five years. This plan is the first step in a legislative budget process, and the exclusion of space funding would jeopardize the state's continued progress in expanding the commercial use of the Cape Canaveral Spaceport.

In this phase last year, the Space infrastructure budget for FY-12 was $15 million and it remained there through the executive and legislative budget process. Those funds have supported Space Florida’s work with SpaceX at Launch Complex 40, Boeing at OPF-3, and other projects yet to be announced. To promote the inclusion of spaceport funding for the FY 2013-2017 timeframe, written comments from interested parties (organizations or individuals) will be accepted by FDOT through Nov. 7.

Comments should be addressed to: Noranne Downs, District Secretary, Florida Department of Transportation, 719 South Woodland Boulevard, DeLand, Florida 32720, and sent to (11/3)

Virgin Galactic Releases Flight Highlights Video (Source: Virgin Galactic)
Check out this short video featuring Sir Richard Branson and the recent test flights of his suborbital spaceflight vehicle. Click here. Editor's Note: Virgin Galactic President George Whitesides will be in Florida on Monday, attending the Field Hearing of the House Committee on Transportation, at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The visit will also include a tour of Embry-Riddle's NextGen Testbed, where Embry-Riddle and corporate partners are testing technologies that will ultimately enable commercial spaceflight through the National Airspace System. (11/3)

Cobham Lands Pair of Antenna Contracts on Heels of Acquisition (Source: Space News)
British aerospace and defense contractor Cobham PLC announced two six-year contracts valued at up to $72.7 million to provide satellite communications ground antennas to the U.S. Navy and Thales Communications Inc. The awards were made through Cobham Antenna Systems’ newly acquired Trivec-Avant business, a Huntington Beach, Calif.-based satellite antenna manufacturer Cobham bought for $126 million in a deal that closed Oct. 31. (11/3)

Military Leaders Testify Before Supercommittee on Effect of Cuts (Source: The Hill)
Military leaders testified before the congressional supercommittee Wednesday about the dire consequences of further cuts if the committee does not come to agreement. "We're talking hundreds of aircraft and thousands of people" that would have to be cut from the U.S. Air Force, said Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. The head of the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army also testified. The Aerospace Industries Association forecast 1 million jobs would be lost from defense cuts. (11/3)

Successful Docking Catapults China Into Elite Space Club (Source:
Two unmanned Chinese spaceships made an automated docking in orbit Wednesday, successfully proving precise navigation and rendezvous technology crucial to China's aspirations for a space station by the end of this decade. Although no one was aboard either spacecraft Wednesday, the precise docking could give Chinese officials confidence to put up to three astronauts on the next rendezvous mission.

Relying on data from radar, laser and optical sensors, the Shenzhou 8 spacecraft's computer automatically guided the capsule to a docking more than 200 miles above China. The docking occurred during a night pass to avoid interference from the sun's glare with sensitive navigation and rendezvous equipment. "I announce the rendezvous and docking of Shenzhou 8 and Tiangong 1 has been a complete success," said Chinese Gen. Change Wanquan, commander of China's manned space program. (11/3)

Lawmakers Slam White House-China Cooperation (Source: AFP)
Two US congressmen blasted the White House and NASA on Wednesday for "dangerous" cooperation with China, saying technology transfer has greatly enhanced Beijing's space and missile capability. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) warned of a ballooning national security threat brought about by what he described as the "overreach" of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), which was accused of violating legislation aimed at curtailing US-China cooperation.

"Anything that allows China any access to our technology... brings forth some major counterintelligence issues," he said, adding that any US effort "to reach out to the communist Chinese, to engage them on matters of technology, is quite frankly not just naive but dangerous." Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), who has been a major critic of Beijing's human rights policy, told the hearing he was "very troubled with this administration's apparent eagerness to work with China on its space program and willingness to share other sensitive technologies."

Last month the GAO determined that OSTP violated a statute -- introduced by Wolf into a broader law signed by President Obama -- that prohibits the office and NASA from using federal funds for certain bilateral engagements with China. OSTP director John Holdren was told by the Department of Justice that his office's activities fell under the president's exclusive executive authority to conduct foreign diplomacy, and that the statute therefore did not apply to OSTP. (11/3)

KSC's Cabana Speaks at Space Transportation Association Event (Source: @Jeff_Foust)
KSC Director Bob Cabana was the featured guest at a Nov. 3 meeting of the Space Transportation Association in Washington DC. He said KSC's workforce, which peaked in the Shuttle era at about 18,000, now is down to about 8,200. The level is expected to rise to 10,000. He said Pad 39B will be used for NASA's heavy-lift SLS rocket, but will also be available for various commercial rockets. (11/3)

National Space Club (Florida Committee) Invites Award Nominations (Source: NSCFL)
The National Space Club – Florida Committee presents its premier award, the Dr. Kurt H. Debus Award, for significant contributions to the advancement, awareness, and improvement of aerospace in Florida. This award will be presented at our annual Debus Dinner, scheduled for April 12 at the Debus Conference Center at KSC.

Whether as a Space Club member or friend of the aerospace program, we encourage you to submit nominations for the 2012 Debus Award. Nominations must be made in writing and should be mailed to the address shown at the top of this letter to the attention of the Debus Award Selection Committee. The deadline for submitting nominations is Friday, 20 January 2012. Click here. (11/3)

Space Florida Promises Virgin Galactic Payloads (Source: Florida Today)
Space Florida will pay to fly a scientist and student experiments from Florida on Virgin Galactic’s suborbital spaceship, an investment intended to stimulate interest in science and technology education and boost the state’s role in space-based research. The state agency’s board on Wednesday unanimously approved spending up to $400,000 for two seats on a flight.

“We want to be able to position Florida to be the ground node for a lot of that kind of access,” Space Florida President Frank DiBello said during the meeting in Fort Lauderdale. A competition is planned to select the researcher and payloads to be flown in microgravity for about five minutes on Virgin’s SpaceShipTwo, which would take off with a carrier aircraft from the company’s New Mexico spaceport.

DiBello said a doctoral-level scientist would occupy one seat and a rack holding eight experiment compartments would occupy the equivalent of another seat. At least four of the compartments are expected to be filled through a statewide university competition. A similar process at the high school level could fill the remaining slots. In addition to the educational motives of buying tickets on a Virgin flight, Space Florida envisions establishing a local base of customers for suborbital research that will eventually lead that company and others to fly from Florida. (11/3)

Proton Poised to Replenish Russian Navigation System (Source:
A Proton launcher will rocket into orbit Friday with three Glonass navigation satellites for the Russian government, delivering reinforcements for the military-run fleet of positioning and timing spacecraft. The Proton rocket rolled to the launch pad Monday. Powered by six hydrazine-fueled main engines, the 191-foot-tall Proton rocket will blast off Friday from a launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Liftoff was supposed to occur Thursday, but a technical issue delayed the mission until Friday. (11/3)

Last American to Walk on Moon Says China Will Beat Others Back (Source: Globe and Mail)
Former Apollo astronaut Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon almost 40 years ago, is worried China will beat other nations back to the shiny orb. “There’s no question in my mind at all that they are going to develop the capability to go to the moon and probably establish colonies there to take advantage of some of the resources that are on the moon,” he said on Wednesday.

China moved one step closer to setting up its own space station with the successful docking of two unmanned spacecraft above the Earth which was announced Thursday morning. Mr. Cernan spent more than 70 hours on the lunar surface in December 1972 along with fellow U.S. astronaut Harrison Schmitt during the Apollo 17 mission. He said China is “eight or 10 years away” from landing on the moon and when they get there they are going to literally almost own it because no other countries have any plans to go there. (11/3)

Moscow's Mars Volunteers to 'Land' After 520 Days (Source: AFP)
Six volunteers Friday will emerge blinking into the outside world after spending almost one-and-a-half-years in isolation at a Russian research center to test the effects on humans of a flight to Mars. The six men, who have spent 520 days in a capsule in a car park outside the Moscow institute, will at 1000 GMT open the hatch of their module that slammed shut on June 3, 2010, before being taken for a barrage of medical tests.

The experiment simulated blast off in June last year and landing on Mars in February, with volunteers carrying out spacewalks in full space gear in a sand-filled enclosure before setting off on the long journey back to Earth. The all-male team is made up of three Russians, two doctors and one engineer; a Chinese astronaut trainer; and French and Italian engineers, who were sent by the European Space Agency. (11/3)

Russia Looks at Staging Simulated Mars Mission Onboard ISS (Source: Itar-Tass)
Russia’s Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) is looking at staging a simulated Mars mission experiment onboard the International Space Station (ISS) to continue the Mars-500 land-based simulated mission, Roscosmos’ deputy head Vitaly Davydov told Itar-Tass on Thursday. “We are interested in staging such an experiment in actual conditions of zero gravity,” he said but admitted that so far the agency has no specific plans. “It is too early to say when such an experiment could be made,” he added. In his words, such a project might be possible after 2014, since the schedule of ISS work and its crews for the next two years have already been endorsed. (11/3)

Excalibur Almaz, NASA Sign Commercial Spaceflight Deal (Source: Florida Today)
NASA's roster of partners developing commercial vehicles to possibly fly astronauts has expanded to include Houston-based Excalibur Almaz Inc., which plans to fly upgraded versions of capsules originally designed to serve Soviet military space stations. Excalibur and NASA signed a Space Act Agreement that includes no NASA funding but allows collaboration between engineering teams.

A NASA statement says the company's system for flying crews to the International Space Station would use its planned reusable, three-person space tourist vehicle with an intermediate stage, flown on a commercially available launch vehicle to be determined. Excalibur Almaz is the seventh company to partner with NASA in the second round of the Commercial Crew Development program, or CCDev-2. (11/3)

DirecTV to Double the Size of its El Segundo Headquarters (Source: LA Times)
Satellite broadcaster DirecTV Group Inc. has agreed to double the size of its El Segundo headquarters in a lease valued at more than $300 million. DirecTV, which beams television service to more than 19 million subscribers, will rent 630,000 square feet in three buildings near Los Angeles International Airport. The broadcaster said it expects to expand into a total of up to 720,000 square feet over the course of the nearly 16-year agreement. (11/3)

Co-op Powers New Mexico Spaceport (Source:
New Mexico’s goal of becoming the hub for space tourism and a leading center for commercial space travel is getting a little closer, with the help of an electric cooperative. Sierra Electric Cooperative recently energized a dedicated line to serve Spaceport America, a state-owned commercial spaceport near the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range. The state paid for a new substation and a distribution line consisting of five miles of overhead conductor and a mile of underground line to serve the 18,000-acre site. (11/3)

Obama Praises New Boeing Jobs in Florida (Source: FOX News)
President Obama has praised the creation of potentially hundreds of new jobs by a Boeing deal in Florida; a state still hurting from the loss of some 7,000 Kennedy Space Center jobs after the president ended NASA's space shuttle program. "The next era of space exploration won't wait, and so we can't wait for Congress to do its job and give our space program the funding it needs," the president said in a statement Tuesday.

But the president recently sliced a chunk out of the space exploration job market by ending NASA's long-running space shuttle program. He did that, he said, so that NASA could refocus on less routine travel and ultimately send a mission to Mars. Separately, Boeing has been at the center of a battle with national labor leaders since the company decided to move a multi-million dollar airplane factory to South Carolina from Seattle, amidst protests there by unionized workers.

The president tried to stay out of the fray publicly on the issue, but the National Labor Relations Board, on which some Obama appointees sit, has sought a legal battle against Boeing for what the board sees as retaliation against union workers. Editor's Note: More typical FOX reporting, incorrectly (but intentionally) blaming President Obama for canceling the Space Shuttle program, then throwing in some unrelated negative 'news' for good measure. (11/3)

No comments: