November 5, 2011

Local Air Force Captain Among Women In Aerospace Awardees (Source: WIA)
Captain Amanda Zuber, a SBIRS Field Program Manager with the 45th Space Wing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, is among seven women honored last week by Women in Aerospace (WIA). She shared the WIA 2011 Achievement Award with Dr. Diane Pugel, a physicist at Goddard Space Flight Center. The WIA Aerospace Awareness Award went to Cheryle Moore McNair of the DREME Science Literacy Foundation. The WIA Aerospace Educator Award went to Rene Kimura of the Hawaii Space Grant Consortium.

The WIA Leadership Award went to Brig. Gen. Laura Jane Strickland Richardson of the US Army. The WIA Lifetime Achievement Award went to Julie Sattler of Lockheed Martin. And the WIA Outstanding Member Award went to Angela Phillips Diaz of the Purdue University Global Policy Research Institute. (11/5)

Japan Also Needs Long-Range Space Development Strategy (Source: Yomiuri Shimbun)
The International Space Station, which was jointly built by 15 countries, including Japan, the U.S., Russia and European nations, is expected to be decommissioned in 2020. There is a growing likelihood that China will become the only country with a facility capable of letting humans stay in space for a long period.

Japan, for its part, has failed to spell out a long-range strategy for space exploration. Given China's rapidly accelerating--and improving--space capabilities, Japan should work with the United States and other nations to prepare for potential threats to this nation's security. (11/5)

Laid-off KSC Workers' Supplies Eagerly Accepted by Educators (Source: Florida Today)
A binder decorated with space shuttle mission stickers. A clock with numbers covered by employees’ pictures. A nameplate labeled “New Guy.” The office supplies once filled desks, filing cabinets and walls at KSC, but are now making their way into classrooms in four counties.

As thousands of KSC contractors were let go due to the shuttle’s retirement this year, their unneeded supplies were rounded up and distributed over the past week to teachers who eagerly carted them away by the carload. “Out of everything bad comes something good, that’s the way I look at it,” said Alice Smith, the KSC manager who oversaw the massive collection project. (11/5)

Aerojet Would Consider Building 'Space Tugs' in Ohio (Source: Dayton Daily News)
Aerojet, a rocket engine contractor that serves the Air Force and NASA, wants to design and build solar-powered “space tugs” that could move satellites into orbit or help push spacecraft toward the Moon, Mars or other destinations. Aerojet wants to work with Glenn Research Center and the Air Force Research Laboratory to develop the technology for a prototype within the next 3-5 years, then build what would be reusable vehicles for long-term deployment in space.

The company would consider building those vehicles in Ohio and developing relationships with local small-business suppliers, though it hasn’t identified potential sites, an Aerojet official said. “As we get closer to building a demonstrator, we’d need to put a facility in place,” he said. The Ohio Aerospace Institute, which promotes the state’s aerospace industry, said it wants to work with Aerojet to bring it to Ohio. (11/5)

Boeing Project at KSC a Welcome Boost in Central Florida (Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)
The Boeing crew capsules are just part of the plan, of course. The crew vehicle will need to be attached to an Atlas V rocket. A number of private companies continue work on the rocket aspect, trying to find ways to recycle rockets, which are usually disposed of because of their drop in saltwater.

If rocket technology is improved and made more affordable, there will be little else holding back the private sector from robust involvement in space travel and exploration throughout the 21st century. This new phase of space exploration should benefit the Daytona Beach area, which is fortunate to have Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the nation's foremost aerospace university. The school is planning a 90-acre Research and Technology Park that could include companies involved in the development of aerospace technology. (11/5)

Australia Hosts China Space Tracking Station (Source: AFP)
China has acquired a space tracking station in Australia, its first such facility hosted by a close U.S. ally. The station in remote Dongara, about 350 kilometers north of Perth in western Australia, was used during last week's launch of the Shenzhou VIII mission. The U.S. and the European Space Agency have long had tracking facilities in Australia.

Reaction to the Chinese station, its first in a key US ally's territory, will be closely watched to see whether Washington will raise objections. The Dongara station is its fifth outside China, with one each in Pakistan and Chile, another in Kenya and one in Namibia. The Australian defence ministry had no comment on Dongara. (11/5)

Adams Backs Obama Effort for NASA (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Proof again that politics makes strange bedfellows, U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams, R-Orlando, wrote this week to congressional appropriators asking that they fund a NASA program that long has been a top priority for President Barack Obama and his administration. In a two-page note, Adams highlighted NASA’s effort to use commercial rocket companies to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station, calling this approach “a vital piece of the future of human space flight.”

Obama has proposed $850 million annually for the commercial crew effort but Congress has balked at that amount — suggesting funding at either $500 million or around $300 million. In her letter, Adams strongly backs the $500 million amount. This marks a significant shift for Adams, who — while not outright opposing commercial crew efforts — never has been an outspoken proponent. (11/4)

Rover Spots 'New Thing' on Mars (Source: MSNBC)
NASA's Opportunity rover has come across a light-colored line of rocks that could serve as solid evidence for Mars' watery past — and help set the stage for the next Mars mission, due for launch this month. The formation, nicknamed "Homestake" or "The Vein," showed up in pictures that the rover sent back from the rim of Endeavour Crater early this week. It looks like a few paving bricks, sticking edge up from the surrounding soil. Not all that impressive, but it caught the attention of the rover science team as well as the amateur observers who are following Oppy's every move. Click here to see. (11/4)

Air Force Aims To Add 380 Jobs On Space Coast (Source: Florida Today)
The U.S. Air Force will increase the number of civilian jobs at Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station by almost 400, the office of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said today. The increase comes at a time when the service is cutting 9,000 civilian jobs at bases across the country. The cost-savings measure is a service-wide effort to adjust to a new era of defense spending cuts.

Dan McLaughlin, a spokesman for Nelson's office, said the senator was briefed by the Air Force this week. The jobs will be added between now and next Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year. Slides from the Air Force briefing show 224 civilian positions will be added at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, a 47 percent increase over the 477 civilian billets there now. A total of 156 civilian jobs will be added to the 1,600 now at Patrick Air Force Base, a 10 percent jump.

The number of civilian jobs at Air Force bases across Florida will increase by 493, or about four percent more than the current 13,034 civilian jobs. The 380 additional jobs on the Space Coast represents more than 75 percent of the total increase. The 45th Space Wing oversees operations at the two bases as well as the Eastern Range. (11/4)

Russia’s Space Program Still Relevant, Experts Agree (Source: Space Policy Online)
At a panel discussion on Thursday, three experts on the Russian space program agreed that despite two recent launch failures widely covered in the media and enduring budget challenges, Russia's space program remains quite relevant today. In fact, the U.S. space program is more dependent on Russia than most realize.

Although a lot of attention is focused on the U.S. dependence on Russia today for taking crews to and from the International Space Station, the U.S. space program also is dependent on Russia for rocket engines for the Atlas V and Taurus II launch vehicles, Smith noted. The two countries actually are interdependent with regard to space programs, Smith explained, since Russia depends on U.S. funds to augment its modest government budget, needs the U.S. as a market for its space wares, and needs a space station. (11/4)

54th Anniversary of Russia Launching 'First Female to Space' (Sources: Science Punk; Space Policy Online)
Nov. 3 marked the 54th anniversary of the launch of the Soviet dog Laika, the first animal in orbit -- or, as founder Marcia Smith commented, the "first female in space." Fifty-four years ago, a plucky little mongrel became the world's first space pilot, taking a one-way trip aboard Sputnik 2. Here's to you, Laika. (11/4)

USAF May Cut Northrop Satellite Program (Source: Aviation Week)
The Air Force could terminate a multibillion-dollar weather satellite being developed by Northrop Grumman, according to two sources. The move comes as the Air Force hunts for ways to trim its budget and help the Pentagon achieve about $489 billion in cuts over the next 10 years. Analyst Loren Thompson said the decision would be short-sighted and could have life-or-death consequences on the battlefield.

“It is a sad commentary about how budget pressures are forcing military services to make dangerous choices,” Thompson wrote in a blog for the Lexington Institute. Termination of the Defense Weather Satellite System (DWSS) would mark the culmination of a saga that began nearly two decades ago, when the White House ordered the Pentagon and NOAA to work on a single next-generation weather satellite that could satisfy both civilian and military needs. (11/4)

NASA Seeks Space Technology Graduate Fellowship Applicants (Source: NASA)
NASA is seeking applications from graduate students for the agency's second class of Space Technology Research Fellowships. Applications will be accepted from accredited U.S. universities on behalf of graduate students interested in performing space technology research beginning in fall 2012. Click here. (11/4)

Japan, Vietnam Sign Deal for Two Radar Imaging Satellites (Source: Space News)
Vietnam will buy a pair of Japanese-designed Earth observing radar satellites under a just-finalized deal representing Japan’s first export of a remote sensing satellite system. The sale, financed through a Japanese foreign aid package, was sealed in an agreement signed here Oct. 31 by Japan’s ambassador to Vietnam, Yasuaki Tanizaki, and Vietnam’s minister of planning and investment, Bui Quang Vinh. (11/4)

Exploring 'The Hidden Reality' Of Parallel Worlds (Source: NPR)
Our universe might be really, really big — but finite. Or it might be infinitely big. Both cases, says physicist Brian Greene, are possibilities, but if the latter is true, so is another posit: There are only so many ways matter can arrange itself within that infinite universe. Eventually, matter has to repeat itself and arrange itself in similar ways. So if the universe is infinitely large, it is also home to infinite parallel universes. Click here to hear the interview. (11/4)

Space Eats for Mars Trips (Source: Science News)
Even an Iron Chef couldn’t master what a food-centric cadre of NASA scientists do every day: Devise tasty, healthy meals for astronauts to take into low-Earth orbit and beyond — perhaps even to Mars. Feeding people in space is harder than it sounds. Meals have to contain enough nutrients to keep the human body functioning in near-zero gravity. Slicing, dicing and stir-frying are impossible because ingredients float around.

And now that NASA has set its sights on manned trips to Mars, packaged food has to last longer than ever to keep dinner from spoiling. Fortunately, new research reveals how to make long-lasting space chow both possible and palatable. Plant scientists are testing new methods to farm crops in orbit, so that astronauts could snack on space-grown salad. Engineers are inventing new ways to package food to keep it fresh for up to five years. Click here. (11/4)

Telesat Sees Improved Profitability into 2012 (Source: Space News)
Telesat reported flat revenue but improved gross profit for the nine months ending Sep. 30 compared to the previous year and said fully booked satellites scheduled for launch in 2012 will boost the company’s performance. Telesat also filed a $125 million insurance claim following the failure of its Telstar-14R/Estrela do Sul-2 satellite to fully deploy one of its two solar panels. The defect will cut the satellite’s in-orbit life to 12 years from an expected 15 years and will also reduce its broadcast capacity. (11/4)

ITU Board Fails To Resolve Dispute over Iranian Service (Source: Space News)
International regulators have failed to resolve a satellite frequency dispute pitting France, Qatar and satellite operator Eutelsat against Iran, Saudi Arabia and operator Arabsat, setting the stage for a likely showdown in January at a global conference of telecom authorities. The Radio Regulations Board of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) proved powerless to settle an issue that radio frequency experts say could snowball into a threat to the ITU’s ability to manage development of the geostationary orbital arc and the broadcast frequencies used there.

At issue is whether the government of Iran misled the ITU by saying its Zohreh-2 satellite network maintained its regulatory eligibility in past years by being temporarily hosted on U.S.- and French-registered satellites. The service is now being hosted by Arabsat, a major satellite consortium headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, using a satellite located at 26 degrees east longitude. (11/4)

House and Senate Begin Conference Negotiations on Minibus (Source: Space News)
The House and Senate have begun hammering out a compromise spending measure they hope to enact by Nov. 18 to fund NASA and several other federal agencies for 2012 and keep the rest of the government running into December. House and Senate appropriators convened a conference committee Nov. 3 to iron out their differences on a package of three previously separate spending bills, including those funding NASA, weather satellite programs at NOAA, and the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation. (11/4)

Intrepid Submits Proposal for NASA Shuttle (Source: The Real Deal)
After winning one of four NASA shuttles in April, the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum realized the structure might be too big for its existing grounds. This week, the Hell's Kitchen museum submitted plans and architectural renderings to the local community board for a new structure across the West Side Highway from the Intrepid Museum, at West 46th Street, that would house the shuttle. The museum does not yet own the land. The new museum would be a spiraling glass structure with classrooms, labs, a theater and a rooftop restaurant centered around the shuttle.

"A museum! I can't believe it, it's not a massage parlor," said board member J.D. Noland. "It's for kids! It's wonderful. It elevates the community." Intrepid expects the museum to have an additional 300,000 visitors per year, bring 1,186 new jobs and generate $143 million in revenue per annum. (11/4)

NASA Leaders Expected at Langley to Discuss SLS, Orion (Source:
Leaders from six NASA facilities will visit Langley Research Center in Hampton on Tuesday to discuss the agency’s new deep space rocket. The meeting, which is closed to the media, comes less than two months after NASA announced the Space Launch System, an Apollo-like rocket designed to eventually take astronauts to Mars. Center directors will also tour Langley and watch a test drop of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle. (11/4)

Monster Sunspot Poses Threat of Significant Solar Storms (Source: Washington Post)
A major sunspot is presently emerging on the surface of the solar disk facing Earth. According to Jess Whittington at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), the huge and still growing sunspot is the most active part of the sun since 2005. The area is called Region 1339 and is being referred to as a “benevolent monster.” 8.3 times bigger than Earth, it generated a solar flare which shot out a burst of charged particles yesterday but - this time - was not aimed at Earth.

However, this extremely active area of the sun will be facing earth for about two weeks. At this time there is no way to predict whether new flares will generate significant solar storms aimed towards Earth and, if so, whether they could result in geomagnetic storms capable of dire consequences on “life as we know it”. It’s more likely that we’ll see only an increased chance of auroras. (11/4)

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