January 25, 2012

How Gingrich Would Colonize the Moon (Source: News OK)
Newt Gingrich has dreamed up a lot of weird ideas, but this one tops them all, according to the former House Speaker.
“At one point early in my career I introduced the Northwest Ordinance in Space,” the Republican presidential candidate told thousands of voters on Florida’s Space Coast. Under Gingrich's proposal, once there were “13,000 Americans living on the moon, they [could] petition to become a state,” he said.

Standing before an adoring crowd of supporters, Gingrich joked that the proposal — which would essentially colonize the moon — was “the weirdest thing I have ever done.” The crowd laughed. But Gingrich grew more serious as he explained the rationale behind his proposal. “I wanted every young American to say to themselves, ‘I could be one of those people,’” he said. All practicalities aside, the idea would inspire young people to dream, he said.

“[That’s] the difference between romantics and so-called practical people,” Gingrich concluded. Gingrich borrowed the term “Northwest Ordinance” from the Second Continental Congress’ establishment of a territory in 1787 that was later used as a model for adopting new states into the Union. (1/25)

Gingrich Wows Space Coast Audience with 'Grandiose' Space Vision (Source: SPACErePORT)
“I am sick of being told we have to be timid and I am sick of being told we have to be limited to technologies that are 50 years old,” Newt Gingrich told a cheering Space Coast audience, unveiling his vision for a permanent lunar base (by the end of his second term) and strenthened U.S. leadership in space. Like President Obama, Gingrich called for increased commercialization in Earth orbit. For Mars exploration he proposed a $10 billion prize and development of new propulsion technologies to shorten the trip. He was highly critical of NASA's bureaucracy, arguing that much progress could be made in space if the agency were not bound by its traditional ways of doing business.

Gingrich repeatedly pointed to the aviation industry for examples of how the space industry should evolve. Rather than launching once per day, which seems to be our current technical limit, Gingrich sees 5-8 launches per day, with airport-like operations. He wants 10% of NASA's budget devoted to prizes (recalling the prize that Lindbergh won to cross the Atlantic). He pointed at the airline industry's evolution in the 1930s as a guide for space transportation. He said if we can change the expectations that come with bureaucracy, and ramp up our sense of urgency, we can accomplish amazing things. (1/25)

Logsdon on Gingrich: Realistic Goals Not His Strong Suit (Source: Space.com)
"When we are not expecting a U.S. crewed launch to the ISS until 2016-2017 and are just getting started on a lunar-class launch vehicle, establishing a lunar outpost by 2020 is a fantasy," space policy expert John Logsdon, professor emeritus at George Washington University, told SPACE.com via email. "It would be much better to set realistic goals, but that is not Mr. Gingrich's strong suit." (1/25)

Beware Campaign Promises: Obama and Space (Source: Space Policy Online)
In August 2008, candidate Barack Obama gave a rousing space speech in Florida. Criticizing the Bush Administration for giving NASA a vision but not the money to achieve it, Obama asserted "We cannot cede our leadership in space." He vowed to "close the gap" between when the space shuttle program ended and a new system was available and ensure the people of Florida who worked in the space industry did not lose their jobs when the shuttle ended. "We need a real vision," Obama proclaimed, and announced he would reestablish a National Space Council to formulate it. "Under my watch, NASA will inspire the world once again," he said then, and "grow the economy" in Florida.

After his election budget realities set in, Ryan Lizza writes, Obama was told by advisers to cancel the Constellation program because it "was behind schedule, over budget, and 'unachievable." Obama agreed as he wrestled with the need to cut other favorite programs as well. This highlighted Obama’s growing realization that the post-partisan political world he believed in as a candidate and his initial months in office bears little resemblance to Washington reality. It is another lesson in the folly of believing what presidential candidates say during campaigns versus what they can deliver if they win. (1/25)

NEC Corp. Tapped To Build Another Asteroid-Bound Hayabusa Probe (Source: Space News)
NEC Corp. of Tokyo said Jan. 25 that it has been selected to start work on designing and building hardware for Japan’s Hayabusa-2 asteroid sample-return mission, which the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) hopes to launch in 2014. Chris Shimizu, an NEC spokesman, said that the selection will allow NEC to start building the probe, which will be similar in design to the original Hayabusa spacecraft that traveled 6 billion kilometers over seven years to collect about 60 particles of the asteroid 25143 Itokawa and return them to Earth in June 2010. (1/25)

Space Station Resupply Ship Successfully Launched (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
A Russian Soyuz booster successfully launched Wednesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome and propelled a resupply freighter on its two-day pursuit to rendezvous with the International Space Station. (1/25)

Pentagon Will Announce 2013 Budget This Week (Source: Wall Street Journal)
The Pentagon plans to announce its budget for fiscal year 2013 on Thursday, officials said. The Pentagon will propose spending $525 billion in 2013, which is $6 billion less than its base budget in 2012. The Pentagon plans to cut the number of military personnel on active duty and cancel some programs. (1/25)

Space Florida Seeks OK for Spaceport Projects (Source: Florida Today)
Space Florida seeks approval to spend more than $10 million to renovate a former shuttle hangar at Kennedy Space Center, modernize a Cape Canaveral launch pad and update the state’s space master plan. During a meeting in Tallahassee, board members also will consider a proposal that would give the agency title to a $100 million facility being built to house the retired shuttle orbiter Atlantis at the KSC Visitor Complex, a financing arrangement that helps the complex’s operator. Space Florida says a plan to take over title of the Atlantis exhibit facility repeats the financing structure used in 2005 to support the Visitor Complex’s construction of the $35 million Shuttle Launch Experience attraction.

If approved, $5 million would start work to ready Kennedy’s Orbiter Processing Facility-3 and Processing Control Center for commercial use by Boeing, which plans to assemble commercial crew capsules there. The hangar is expected to be ready to support commercial operations by the first quarter of 2014. Space Florida, the state’s aerospace economic development agency, took over use of the facility last year and will lease it to Boeing.

At Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Space Florida is upgrading Launch Complex-46 for potential launches of Athena or Minotaur rockets. The agency proposes spending up to $5 million to modernize the complex’s communications infrastructure and refurbish mechanical and electrical facilities. An update of the Canaveral Spaceport master plan would spell out how to transform KSC and the Cape into a “cohesive and coordinated commercial, civil and military spaceport." Click here. (1/25)

Embry Riddle and SpaceTEC Sign Agreement to Advance Aerospace Education (Source: ERAU)
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and SpaceTEC have entered into a new partnering agreement allowing SpaceTEC certified students to enter Embry-Riddle's aerospace education programs. Students from the SpaceTEC consortium of community and technical colleges who are enrolled in coursework or who pass Core and/or Concentration Certification Examinations and currently hold the SpaceTEC Certified Aerospace Technician credentials will be eligible to transfer all work toward the A.S. and/or A.A.S. degrees and continue their education toward higher degrees at Embry-Riddle.

SpaceTEC is a National Science Foundation Center for Aerospace Technical Education. Based at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, SpaceTEC is a consortium of leading national institutions, including Brevard Community College (Florida), Calhoun Community College (Alabama), Community College of the Air Force (Alabama), Doña Ana Community College (New Mexico), Edmonds Community College (Washington), Thomas Nelson Community College (Virginia), and Tulsa Technology Center (Oklahoma). These partners serve the aerospace technical education/training needs of U.S. spaceports, NASA centers and military installations, and aerospace industry clusters. (1/23)

'Amazing' Mars Rover Opportunity Begins Ninth Year of Exploration (Source: Space.com)
A NASA rover celebrates eight years on the Martian surface today (Jan. 24), and the long-lived robot is still going strong. The Opportunity rover landed on the Red Planet on this day in 2004, three weeks after its twin, Spirit, touched down. While NASA declared Spirit dead last year, Opportunity continues to gather data, helping scientists understand more and more about Mars' wetter, warmer past. (1/24)

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