February 2, 2012

Virginia Govenor to Speak at FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference (Source: SpaceRef)
The AIAA will co-sponsor the 15th Annual FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference, to be held February 15-16 in Washington DC. The conference will feature high-level speakers and panels examining the growth of the U.S. commercial space sector, and the future of commercial space exploration. The conference theme is "Commercial: The New Future of Space." Notable speakers will include: The Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell; George C. Nield; William Gerstenmaier; and Gen. William L. Shelton. (2/2)

NASA Sees New Targets for Soyuz, Falcon Launches (Source: Florida Today)
NASA today confirmed new dates for the next launches of crews to the International Space Station on Russian spacecraft and said SpaceX would likely be ready to launch a capsule to the outpost by early April. In a teleconference with reporters, International Space Station program manager Mike Suffredini said he was confident the Russians would resolve a problem that badly damaged the next Soyuz spacecraft in line to fly a crew from Kazakhstan.

The next returning crew, including American astronaut Dan Burbank, is expected to land April 30, instead of in March. Suffredini said SpaceX is closing out a range of technical issues with its Dragon spacecraft, including electromagnetic interference, propellant tank insulation, engine delamination and software adjustments. Once scheduled to launch Feb. 7 and now tentatively targeting a March 20 launch from Cape Canaveral, Suffredini said the first week of April is a realistic target for launch of the unmanned Dragon atop a Falcon 9 rocket. (2/2)

NASA Concept Maps Show Why We Explore (Source: NASA)
"Why do we explore space"? These concept maps - a collaborative effort between the [Florida-based] Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) and NASA - let you explore and understand the many reasons we journey beyond Earth. The knowledge of space experts is provided through easy-to-navigate concept maps with links to hundreds of videos, images, and Web pages. Simply launch into the site, delving deeper into areas of most interest to you, and quickly learn about the possibilities and benefits of adventures beyond the Earth. Click here. (2/2)

Colbert Drums Up Support for NASA (Source: Florida Today)
Stephen Colbert, host of the nightly 'The Colbert Report,' is trying to drum up support for space. In a public service announcement released for NASA, the talk show host said he likes space even more "because NASA is doing great things on the International Space Station," including research into infections and disease. Colbert is no stranger to the ISS. He has a station treadmill named after him. Click here. (2/2)

Cecil Field Spaceport Development Symposium Planned (Source: SPACErePORT)
Development of the Cecil Field Spaceport near Jacksonville will be the topic of a summit on March 26. The event will include panel discussions on a variety of issues. Click here for preliminary details. (2/2)

ULA Completes Two CCDev Milestones for Man-rating Atlas V (Source: Parabolic Arc)
United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully completed two milestones that could eventually lead toward the certification of its Atlas V launch vehicle for human spaceflight. In December, ULA conducted a series of detailed reviews that reflected the culmination of efforts involving technical experts and representatives from NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP).

“ULA gave us an invaluable opportunity to get to know its Atlas V systems and subsystems through our unfunded partnership,” said Commercial Crew Program Manager Ed Mango. “And we are happy to share our knowledge and expectations to keeping our crews safe.” Three of the four current NASA Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) partners have selected Atlas V as their launch vehicle. (2/2)

Newfound Alien Planet is Best Candidate Yet to Support Life (Source: Space.com)
A potentially habitable alien planet — one that scientists say is the best candidate yet to harbor water, and possibly even life, on its surface — has been found around a nearby star. The planet is located in the habitable zone of its host star, which is a narrow circumstellar region where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist on the planet's surface.

"It's right smack in the habitable zone — there's no question or discussion about it. It's not on the edge, it's right in there," said Seven Vogt. The researchers estimate that the planet, called GJ 667Cc, is at least 4.5 times as massive as Earth, which makes it a so-called super-Earth. It takes roughly 28 days to make one orbital lap around its parent star, which is located a mere 22 light-years away from Earth, in the constellation Scorpius (the Scorpion). "This is basically our next-door neighbor," Vogt said. "It's very nearby. There are only about 100 stars closer to us than this one." (2/2)

Northrop Grumman Reports Q4 Profit of $550 Million (Source: Bloomberg)
Northrop Grumman reported net income of $550 million for the fourth quarter, compared with $306 million in the same quarter a year earlier. Northrop forecast 2012 sales of $24.7 billion to $25.4 billion. (2/2)

B/E Aerospace Reports Q4 Profit of $57.3 Million (Source: CBS News)
B/E Aerospace reported a profit of $57.3 million for the fourth quarter, compared with a profit of $31.2 million for the same quarter the year earlier. Commercial aircraft sales rose 25% in the fourth quarter for the Florida-based firm. (2/2)

Tight Budgets Bringing Milsats Down to Earth (Source: Aviation Week)
With the U.S. leading the pack, militaries are being forced to balance increased demand for satellite services with austere budgets. The majority of the 161 unclassified milsats forecast for production in the next decade will go into service in the near term with production tapering in the outyears. The primary aim of military planners is to boost capacity while stabilizing costs.

After a decade of multi-billion- dollar satellite cost overruns, the Pentagon finally began space-based testing on the first Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) and Space-Based Infrared System (Sbirs) satellites made by Lockheed Martin. The U.S. Air Force is using these programs as pathfinders for a new way of buying constellations, ordering in bulk in order to stabilize the industry. It remains to be seen, however, whether Congress will approve this approach. (2/2)

NASA's Commercial Crew Partner Sierra Nevada Delivers Flight Test Vehicle Structure (Source: SpaceRef)
One of NASA's industry partners, Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC), recently delivered the primary structure of its first Dream Chaser flight test vehicle to the company's facility in Colorado, where it will be assembled and integrated with secondary systems. This is one of 12 milestones to be completed under SNC's funded Space Act Agreement (SAA) with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP). (2/2)

Russia May Repeat Mars-500 Simulation on Space Station (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia may repeat the Mars-500 experiment simulating a crewed flight to the Red Planet on the International Space Station (ISS), the head of the Russian Space Federal Agency Roscosmos, Vladimir Popovkin said on Thursday. “Mars-500 was a very useful thing in terms of studying people's psychology…We are now seriously considering the possibility of repeating this experiment in space,” Popovkin said, adding that Moscow is now in talks with NASA and the European Space Agency. (2/2)

If Intelligent Creatures Exist on Other Planets, They Likely Won't Visit Earth (Source: NY Daily News)
If you're worried about alien monsters invading Earth as they did in movies like "Independence Day," don't sweat it too much. The aliens probably aren’t coming, an expert says. Civilizations on other worlds, if they even exist, have had plenty of time to develop space travel, so if they wanted to visit Earth, they would have done so already, mathematician Thomas Hair said.

“I’m sure they’d be able to detect if this planet had life on it," Hair, of Florida Gulf Coast University, told Disovery News. Just the chlorofluorocarbonsin our atmosphere would give us away. Some alien civilizations would be able to detect us because they have more sophisticated technology than our own Kepler telescope, Hair says.

But just because the aliens know we're here does not mean they want to meet us or conquer us. There is nothing on our planet that aliens would need, according to Horn. “Any ancient civilization is probably not biological...They don’t need a place like Earth. They don’t need to come here and steal our water. There’s plenty of it out in the outer solar system where the gravity is not so great and they can just take all they want." (2/2)

Europe Seeks Space Cooperation With China (Source: Der Spiegel)
Europe's space industry, cash-strapped as a result of the debt crisis, wants to step up cooperation with China, which has an ambitious program and is building a moon-landing vehicle and capsules for manned missions. Such an alliance would likely cause tensions with the US. There is hardly any other area in which China is as active today as in space technology. China's foray into space presents a challenge to the West. The United States is determined not to allow anyone to usurp its dominant position in space. The Europeans and the German government, however, see the Chinese as less of a rival than a potential partner. (2/2)

Why Does India Need an Aerospace Command? (Source: Defence Professionals)
The early 2007 anti-satellite test carried out by China, besides sending shock waves across the world, seriously jolted the Indian defence establishment into thinking about strategies required to blunt the edge of Chinese space war endeavours. The protection of Indian space assets from rogue satellites and space-based killer devices deployed by adversaries have become the most serious issue for both the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

As it is, both ISRO and DRDO have made it clear that it is well within India’s capability to engineer anti-satellite systems and related destructive devices for deployment in space even while pointing out that India is committed to the peaceful use of outer space. As things stand, the biggest challenge for India is to integrate its space assets into the defence architecture in a seamless fashion, to prepare for a space war if India is pushed to exercise the option. (2/2)

Russia: Manned Moon Shot Possible by 2020 (Source: RIA Novosti)
A crewed mission to the moon is possible by 2020, the head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos, Vladimir Popovkin, said in an interview with the Ekho Moskvy radio station on Thursday. "Today science is ripe for using the moon. I think that by 2020 a man will land on the moon,” Popovkin said. (2/2)

Roscosmos Aims to Make Sea Launch Profitable (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russian space agency Roscosmos and rocket and space-station hardware builder RSC Energia are working to restore commercial viability to the Sea Launch floating platform project, Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin said. "We are preparing a business plan together with RSC Energia to make Sea Launch profitable. We need to guarantee from three to four launches (from the platform) a year to reach that goal. We already have contracts for launches for the next two years," Popovkin said. (2/2)

KSC's Jim Ball Enters Private Sector (Source: Spaceport Strategies)
Jim Ball, KSC's longtime go-to guy for supporting new commercial programs and spaceport planning, retired this week after more than 28 years with NASA. He plans to stay actively engaged in commercial spaceport efforts nationwide through his new company, Spaceport Strategies. Click here. (2/2)

“Teachers in Space” Becomes “Citizens in Space” (Source: HobbySpace)
The United States Rocket Academy made a surprise announcement at the Space Exploration Educators Conference in Houston. “Teachers in Space is now Citizens in Space,” said Edward Wright, chairman of the United States Rocket Academy and project manager of Teachers in Space. “The focus of our program is growing beyond the public school system. We are creating a more inclusive program that will enable teachers, students, museum educators, and others to become citizen scientists and space explorers.”

“Teachers in Space was created to enable large numbers of teachers to fly in space and return to the classroom. Working with the companies that are now developing reusable suborbital vehicles, we have made significant progress toward that goal. We began training our first Pathfinder astronaut candidates and acquired a contract for 10 space flights with one of the new suborbital companies — XCOR Aerospace. This is, to the best of our knowledge, the largest single bulk purchase of suborbital flights to date. We expect that it will be only the first of many such contracts." (2/2)

ATK Restructures Into Three Operating Groups (Source: ATK)
ATK will operate in a three-group structure at the beginning of its Fiscal Year 2013. The new structure will include the Aerospace Group, led by Blake Larson in Magna, Utah; the Defense Group, led by Mike Kahn in Baltimore, Md.; and the Sporting Group, led by Ron Johnson in Anoka, Minn. The Defense Group will integrate the engineering, manufacturing and management excellence of the company's current Armament Systems and Missile Products groups.

The Aerospace Group will continue its significant progress in streamlining its core businesses to drive near-term results and long-term growth in solid rocket propulsion systems, advanced materials, satellite structures and launch structures, and positioning for long-term growth in next-generation commercial and military aircraft structures, and small satellite systems.

The Sporting Group remains committed to its portfolio of market-leading brands, innovative ammunition, accessories, and individual equipment for sporting, military, personal security, and law enforcement applications. ATK is an aerospace, defense, and commercial products company with operations in 22 states, Puerto Rico, and internationally, and revenues of approximately $4.8 billion. (2/2)

Final FAA Bill Includes Partial Extension of CSLAA Provision (Source: Space Politics)
House and Senate conferees released the final, compromise version of a long-delayed FAA reauthorization bill that Congress is expected to pass in the coming days. The conference version of the bill extends the current restriction on safety regulations beyond December 23, 2012 until October 1, 2015. The joint statement of managers of the conference report says: “Nothing in this provision is intended to prohibit the FAA and industry stakeholders from entering into discussions intended to prepare the FAA for its role in appropriately regulating the commercial space flight industry when this provision expires.” (2/2)

KSC Jobs to Shrink by 200 This Spring (Source: Florida Today)
Buyouts and layoffs will shave more than 200 employees from Kennedy Space Center’s ranks during the next few months as post-shuttle downsizing continues. Prime shuttle contractor United Space Alliance, which has been cutting staff quarterly since before last year’s final shuttle mission, plans to let go about 160 local employees on April 13.

Nearly 140 “self-nominated,” or volunteered, for the layoff during an application period that ended last week. So pending approval of those candidates, only a small number may receive unwanted notice by next week that they, too, must go. The April layoff is the last when selected contractors can collect a “critical skills” bonus worth up to 26 weeks of pay on top of their normal severance package. NASA funded the $100 million bonus program during the shuttle’s final years as an incentive to retain essential personnel and ensure safe missions to the end. (2/2)

Space Adventures Sets Target for Circumlunar Human Flight: 2017 (Source: Houston Chronicle)
The proposed private space tourism flight around the moon has a launch date: before February, 2017. That’s about five years from now and would mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 1 tragedy. Space Adventures CEO Eric Anderson made the announcement, saying his company has already sold one seat at the cost of $150 million, and is close to selling the second for a flight around the far side of the moon.

The ability to sell such an expensive experience, he says, validates the vitality of the space tourism marketplace. The date is symbolic in that it would honor the fallen heroes of the Apollo 1 mission, Anderson said. Anderson also said the flight, if it occurs, would provide a real spur to government space programs, which should be pushing the envelope of what is possible. If a private company can do within five years what NASA and other space agencies cannot presently do, he asks “What does that say about what government explorations should be doing?” Editor's Note: Space Adventures is relying on Russia's space agency to accomplish this mission. (2/2)

Roscosmos to Get 1.5 Billion Rubles for Phobos's Loss (Source: Itar-Tass)
Roscosmos hopes to get an insurance payout of 1.5 billion rubles for the loss of the Phobos- Grunt interplanetary station, Chief of the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) Vladimir Popovkin said. "Many have been talking about five billion, but the cost of the spaceship is 1.5 billion. It was insured, and we will be paid the insurance," Popovkin said. The 3.5 billion rouble difference between the costs of the spaceship and the overall project covered modernization of ground control systems. (2/2)

Meet The Last Black Spacewalker (Source: News One)
This Black History Month, we honor the GAME CHANGERS: Everyday heroes whose actions make life better for the people around them. Benjamin Alvin “Al” Drew Jr. is an example of how African Americans can succeed in non-traditional areas. When the Space Shuttle Discovery made its final trip into space in March of 2011, Drew was the only African American on board. The crew delivered the first humanoid robot to space. While on that final historic trip, Drew, a retired Air Force colonel, made two spacewalks, becoming the 200th person to perform a spacewalk. Editor's Note: Drew is a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. (2/2)

Space Tourism: Enlightenment From the Final Frontier (Source: World Policy Journal)
With the decline of hope for the future, many societies need a new paradigm to thrive in a world that is increasingly connected. Fortunately, that new paradigm, which involves a broader perspective on our home planet, could soon become available on a much wider scale. “The Overview Effect” is a phrase that describes the experiences of astronauts and cosmonauts when they look back at the Earth and out into the cosmos, and that very effect could be the key to thinking beyond borders and limits that have previously seemed immutable.

While the astronauts’ experiences have often been regarded as “spiritual,” a more accurate description is that many of them had a cognitive shift in awareness with a new understanding of humanity and our place in the universe. Rather than identifying with one or two places on the Earth, many astronauts looking at the planet from a distance identified with the whole system. They realized that “we are all in this together,” and that there is a "oneness" to the planet that is obscured when we see it from the surface. Click here. (2/2)

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