February 21, 2012

Space Coast Firm Shifts Focus to UAS Market (Source: Craig Technologies)
Craig Technologies will offer customers integrated hardware and software solutions for unmanned vehicle systems, coinciding with the recent Department of Defense report outlining spending cuts and a renewed focus on 21st Century technologies. The award-winning small business is looking to their expanded unmanned vehicle capabilities to answer the DoD’s call for low-cost high-tech solutions. (2/21)

NSS Plans Legislative Blitz on Feb. 26-28 in Washington (Source: NSS)
From Feb. 26-28, the National Space Society and the Space Exploration Alliance will be holding the annual grassroots visit to Congress, known as the "Legislative Blitz." With unprecedented budgetary pressures facing the legislative and executive branches of government, the debate continues about the future direction and funding of our nation's space programs. More than ever before, it is absolutely critical that the voices of the space advocacy community be heard in this debate. Come join space advocates from around the country to let Congress know that there is strong constituent support for an ambitious and sustainable path forward. Click here. (2/21)

Women at NASA Event Planned Mar. 8 in Washington (Source: NASA)
To celebrate Women’s History Month, NASA and George Washington University will be hosting a day-long event that will help to foster a discussion for students and early career professionals about how to continue to encourage women to enter and succeed in the field of aerospace. For information and registration, click here. (2/21)

Space Foundation Offers Scholarship for Florida Educators in Pinellas County (Source: Space Foundation)
The Space Foundation is accepting applications for a scholarship specifically for educators in Pinellas County, Florida. The Dr. Catherine Pedretty Space Scholarship for Teachers was established by the Space Foundation in 2010 to create special professional development opportunities for teachers currently teaching in the Pinellas County Schools, and especially for teachers at Dunedin High School. Funding for the scholarship is provided by her daughter, Janet Stevens of Colorado Springs, Colorado, who is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Space Foundation, and her son, Mark Pedretty, of New Port Richey, Florida. Click here for details. (2/21)

Defense-Employee Contributions Flow to Obama, Paul (Source: Defense News)
President Barack Obama has received the largest number of contributions from employees of the defense industry, but among GOP presidential hopefuls, Ron Paul leads in the number and amount of defense donations. "The numbers do not include contributions to political action committees or super PACs," this feature says. (2/21)

Adams: President’s Budget Proposal Keeps Us On the Wrong Track (Source: Sandy Adams)
"Rather than keeping his promise to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term, President Obama has introduced a budget with the largest deficit ever proposed. He has made it clear with his Fiscal Year 2013 budget request that he has no intention in getting our economy back on track. Instead, the president’s $3.8 trillion budget puts our country on a faster track to bankruptcy with more failed stimulus spending, the biggest tax increase in history, and no solutions for the health and retirement security of current and future seniors."

"It is going to take responsible and decisive action to get our economy back on track. I encourage President Obama and the Senate to join the House in its efforts to rein in reckless spending and to address the drivers of our nation’s debt." Editor's Note: With Congressional redistricting in Florida, it seems likely that Rep. Adams will face Chairman John Mica in a Republican primary to represent a district that will include a border with Kennedy Space Center. Adams' current district includes KSC, but after redistricting KSC will likely be subsumed into a district that could be represented by Rep. Bill Posey. (2/21)

NASA Shifts Leaders at Marshall, Goddard (Source: NASA Watch)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced Tuesday changes to his senior leadership team. Associate Administrator Chris Scolese was named director of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, and Robert Lightfoot, director of the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, will serve as acting associate administrator. Both will assume their new responsibilities on March 5.

Scolese, who has been with NASA since 1987, succeeds Robert Strain, who announced his decision to return to private industry in January. Lightfoot joined NASA in 1989 as a test engineer and program manager at Marshall. Lightfoot's deputy, Gene Goldman, will serve as Marshall's acting center director. (2/21)

LaunchSpace Plans Cocoa Beach Rocketry Courses (Source: SPACErePORT)
LaunchSpace will offer three courses in launch vehicle design and operations in Cocoa Beach. Courses include Liquid Rocket Engine Design (March 26-28), Introduction to Reusable Launch Vehicles (April 25-26), and Solid Rocket Motor Design and Applications (June 12-14). Click here. (2/21)

Kelly Writes Children's Book (Source: Florida Today)
Retired astronaut Mark Kelly, who collaborated with his wife, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, on her memoir, is writing a children’s book about a mouse that goes to space. “On my first space shuttle flight, we had 18 mice on board as experiments,” Kelly said. “And 17 of them, as soon as we got into zero gravity, stayed latched on to the side of the cage. But one of them seemed comfortable through the whole mission, like he was enjoying it.” His “Mousetronaut: A Partially True Story” will be published in October. The book tells of a little mouse chosen for a space mission. (2/21)

Orbital Updates COTS and CRS Schedules (Source: Orbital Sciences)
Orbital Sciences Corp. has updated its 2012 COTS and CRS operational schedules. The company is in 'the homestretch' to four major milestones for the year, including a May first-stage static fire for the Antares rocket, a June Antares test flight for COTS, a third-quarter COTS demonstration mission, and a fourth-quarter CRS mission to the International Space Station. (2/21)

Colorado Spaceport Plans Moving Forward (Source: CBS Denver)
A bill that would help make Colorado a leader in space travel is moving through the legislature. On Tuesday the Senate approved a bill that would limit liability to any company operating spaceflights out of Colorado. Dennis Heap, the manager at Front Range Airport, says the bill is key to space travel so companies would be willing to invest without worry of major lawsuits. The airport is already working on a program to put sub-orbital planes on the edge of space.

Lawmakers say space travel could bring much needed jobs to the state. “We need two things. We need to be licensed to be designated as a spaceport and we need limited liability shielding,” Heap said. The state is also working on getting a special space travel license from the Federal Aviation Administration. (2/21)

Delta Mariner Resumes Transport to Florida Spaceport After Bridge Crash (Source: ULA)
The Delta Mariner is continuing its intended journey to Port Canaveral this week after it impacted a bridge in Kentucky while transporting launch vehicle hardware for United Launch Alliance (ULA). After repair operations in Paducah, the vessel was certified to proceed to its Florida destination by the American Bureau of Shipping; the Mariner departed the shipyard last Friday, proceeding on the journey to the Gulf of Mexico and on to Port Canaveral.

The Mariner is transporting the Atlas booster and Centaur upper stage for the AEHF-2 launch to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) on the normal route northwest on the Tennessee River to the Ohio, and on to the Mississippi River then out to the Gulf of Mexico. The Mariner is scheduled to arrive at Port Canaveral on Feb. 23, which supports ULA's scheduled launch for AEHF-2 on April 27, 2012. (2/21)

Masten Prepares for Florida Launches (Source: SPACErePORT)
From a Masten Space online Q&A: "Once we demonstrate Xaero’s performance envelope in Mojave, we’ll head to Florida. Yes, that was originally slated for last year but flight test is a fickle mistress and it took us longer than anticipated to work out some new kinks that showed up. We’re excited about flying from LC-36 with our partners at Space Florida - they’ve been extremely helpful throughout the range approval process. We can’t wait to come join the rich heritage of aerospace history that is Cape Canaveral Air Force Station."

Editor's Note: Two students from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University have been selected by Masten to be interns at the company's Mojave location in the summer of 2012. (2/20)

How to Lunch NASA’s New Monster Rocket (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
With Kennedy Space Center falling silent after the retirement of the Space Shuttle, it’ll be at least five years before the public will see NASA’s follow-on vehicle rising off the launch pad. Interestingly, the Space Launch System (SLS) will follow some of the Shuttle’s heritage of “Flight Operations.” The new Space Launch System (SLS) is targeting a debut launch on December 17, 2017 – sending an uncrewed Orion (Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle) on a mission around the Moon.

Rolling out to the pad after stacking in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) – potentially a week prior to launch – will allow the vehicle, via its Mobile Launcher (ML), to be hooked up to the pad’s vast array of connections and interfaces during its pad flow. Around this time, a similar set of procedures to a Shuttle launch will take place at the main NASA centers, as managers and teams verify the mission is read to launch via the Flight Readiness Reviews (FRRs) – with the final Agency-level review taking place at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC).

It is also understood that the mission will match Shuttle pre-launch operations from the standpoint of a Mission Management Team (MMT), as the procedures head into the launch day activities – with the mission already into the countdown. The count will also have the Built In Holds (BIH) to allow teams extra time to troubleshoot any problems ahead of launch. (2/21)

KSC at 50: A Spaceport in Transition (Source: Washington Post)
A figurative “for rent” sign hangs on the front gate of Kennedy Space Center. Among the facilities available: A space shuttle launchpad, slightly used; a giant crawler for moving rockets, still serviceable; two enormous mobile launch platforms; two space shuttle maintenance hangars; a 15,000-foot concrete runway, one of the world’s longest; and the blocky, 52-story Vehicle Assembly Building, with four soaring rocket assembly bays — and no waiting.

America’s spaceport turns 50 this year, and a wrenching middle-age transition is under way. “I have a lot of facilities that we, NASA, no longer need,” said KSC Director Robert Cabana. “I don’t have the money to maintain them, I don’t have the money to tear them down. They’re just going to sit and rot.” That is, unless NASA can find some tenants. “We’re putting out the word officially and unofficially that Kennedy Space Center is open for business,” said Scott Colloredo, chief architect for ground systems here.

At the apex of the space shuttle program, some 18,000 people worked here. Now, just 7,500 do. In 2010, President Obama spoke here and vowed to seed a commercial space industry, to replace the canceled Constellation program to return Americans to the moon. With NASA money, American companies would build rockets and spaceships to travel to low Earth orbit. For 2012, President Obama and NASA asked for $850 million to spread among American space companies. Congress provided less than half, $406 million. “Congress hasn’t sufficiently funded it,” said Dale Ketcham. “It’s an Obama idea so Republicans don’t like it.” (2/21)

KSC 'Clawing Back' Despite Weak Congressional Support (Source: Washington Post)
In 2010, President Obama pledged $40 million to transform KSC into a diversified research park. Energy, biotechnology and other high-tech companies were supposed to race for the funds — and the services of skilled workers along the 50-mile Space Coast. But Congress never delivered the $40 million; except for a few small projects, KSC has not diversified.

Today, not all is gloom. The spaceport has recently managed to claw back a few hundred jobs. Lockheed Martin moved into a facility to build NASA's Orion deep space capsule, putting 150 people to work with a test launch scheduled for 2014. Boeing plans to move into one of the three space shuttle hangars. Space Florida rented the building last fall for 15 years and subleased it to the company, which hopes to eventually put 550 people to work building a capsule to fly to the international space station.

NASA has asked Congress for $400 million in the coming year to retrofit launchpads and other facilities. By 2017, NASA hopes, it will fly a giant new rocket, the Space Launch System, on an uncrewed test flight. NASA also plans to retrofit a mobile launch tower it never used. The future of the second shuttle launchpad remains uncertain. Colloredo said NASA officials were talking with “two or three” potential customers. (2/21)

Editorial: In Praise of...a New Broom in Space (Source: Guardian)
If we are no longer allowed to drop litter on the street, why does the same rule not apply to space? The idea to clean up the litter that orbits the Earth has nothing to do with concern for the low-orbit environment. Nor would it stop the stuff showering down on us. The risk of 22,000 odd pieces of junk – that is, objects large enough to track from the ground – hurtling around at 17,500mph is to fellow space users in low orbit.

It only takes a bit of thoughtless behavior (a star wars test by China to destroy one of its satellites with a missile increased the existing orbital debris by 15%). There are lots of Jules Verne-era solutions – like giant nets or harpoons which would drag objects back into the atmosphere. Other solutions involve creating more junk to clean it up: firing satellites into orbit with robotic arms which will catch the junk, attach a rocket to it, and fire it out of orbit. Either way, a new broom in space is needed. (2/21)

AIA Decries Defense, Aerospace Cuts (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The budget released by the administration is not a shot over the bow of the American aerospace and defense worker – it’s a direct hit. As a result of the approximately $487 billion, ten-year cut to the defense budget alone, buying power to procure technologies that fuel U.S. military strength will be reduced in 2013 by approximately $20 billion.

The American warfighter and our national security are not the only victims of this first, drastic result of the 2011 Budget Control Act. The budget released today takes direct aim at the first wave of 350,000 aerospace and defense workers who will be out of work if Congress does not find a solution to the sequestration trigger being pulled in 321 days. In the mean time, hundreds of companies that together form the “defense industrial base” have already begun to downsize in response to the cuts already enacted. (2/21)

Glenn Calls Shuttles' End a 'Drastic Error' (Source: Columbus Dispatch)
John Glenn has been in demand for weeks, traveling the country to talk about his Friendship 7 mission and how the flight that lasted less than five hours changed the space race forever and led to decades of NASA achievements. Sitting next to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Glenn frankly discussed his disappointment over the decision to shut down the space-shuttle program last year. The decision, made by President Bush in 2004, left the nation without the means to launch its astronauts into space.

“I think it was a drastic error,” said Glenn, who returned to space in 1998 aboard the space shuttle Discovery. “I just think it’s very unseemly for our nation, and I don’t like it.” Bolden said that he’s hopeful that U.S. companies will be able to pick up the slack and construct rockets that a new generation of NASA astronauts can use. Plans call for having a U.S. space vehicle by 2017. (2/21)

Aurora Rocket Launched in Alaska To Study Northern Lights' Effect On Satellites (Source: Huffington Post)
A team of scientists launched a small rocket into an eye-popping northern lights display Saturday (Feb. 18) in an attempt to discover what makes auroras tick. The two-stage suborbital rocket blasted off from the Poker Flat Research Range just north of Fairbanks, Ala., and reached a height of about 217 miles (349 kilometers) as part of a NASA-funded study into how the northern lights can affect signals from global positioning system (GPS) satellites and other spacecraft. Click here for photos. (2/21)

Editorial: Mr. President, Don't Clip NASA's Wings (Source: JDNews.com)
Looks like the Obama administration didn’t read my column last week about the necessity of space exploration. In his proposed budget, the president called for $226 million in cuts to NASA. If approved, the space agency’s robotic missions to Mars will suffer terrible setbacks and we can forget about a manned moon base.

There are 210 cuts in the new federal budget, which add up to taxpayer savings of $24 billion in 2013 and $520 billion in the next decade. The budget includes slashes in funds to large children hospitals and small airports. It even puts the kibosh on Saturday mail delivery. But underfunding NASA is a mistake. I’m amazed that everyone seems to think NASA is tax dollar black hole, a moon base is a boondoggle and a manned mission to Mars is out-of-this-world impossible.

“American history proves that smart, focused action by the U.S. government can jump start entire new industries that open new frontiers — from western railroads, to the air, to the Internet — and that is exactly where we are today in space,” said Charles Miller. Instead of cutting NASA’s budget, I think we should be doubling it. (2/21)

With Budget Cuts Looming, the Only Hope for JPL Lies in Aliens (Source: Pasadena Star-News)
Did you hear the story making the rounds Monday that President Dwight D. Eisenhower met with space aliens three times? The tale, based on a British television interview with UFO expert Timothy Good, claims that Eisenhower took three meetings with little green men in February 1954. If it did happen, the Martians have given up on us. How else do you explain $4 a gallon gasoline? I mean if aliens - an intelligent life-form from some other planet - managed to travel light years to get to Earth, chances are they didn't use oil or gasoline to do it.

The investments in space by this country have paid off in so many ways: silicon chips, digital data, satellite television, laser surgery - but we take it for granted. And here we are a mere 50 years down the road barely able to afford the gasoline to get to work. You can blame the government worker welfare system, taxes, no support of drilling for domestic oil, and lack of a clear goal in the search for energy alternatives. Face it, we lack that vision that guided us following the election of Eisenhower's successor John F. Kennedy.

Something's wrong. I would argue its our priorities. Just look at how President Barack Obama wants to dismantle JPL by cutting as much as $1.5 billion of NASA's funds. We can only hope that those who would cut back on space exploration aren't waiting for some bug-eyed little green men to provide the answers. It ain't going to happen. (2/21)

America and Russia: Uneasy Partners in Space (Source: BBC)
Space exploration today benefits from collaboration between the United States and Russia. But a history of intense rivalry - in space, as elsewhere - casts long shadows on the relationship. As highlighted last week in President Obama's 2012 budget request for NASA, the US is committed to developing its own systems for crew transportation to stop its current reliance on Russian launch services. But these are not expected for at least five years.

This reliance on crew transportation is "embarrassing", says Prof John Logsdon, a space policy expert on NASA's Advisory Council. "It's very hard for the States to maintain its claim to be the leading space country in the world when we cannot even launch people into orbit."

From a Russian perspective, "Russia is losing its position in space because of endless failures of space launches, lost satellites and lost communication. It's humiliating," says Igor Sutyagin. Click here. (2/21)

ULA to Create 75 Jobs, Add Rockets (Source: TimesDaily.com)
United Launch Alliance, one of Decatur’s largest employers, expects to add up to 75 employees to its facility this year after adding 150 in 2011. The plant has about 800 employees and 200 contract workers. Dan Caughran, the Decatur site leader, said last week the plant will assemble roughly 13 rockets in 2012, up from nine in 2011. All ULA rockets are assembled in Decatur.

New employees likely would include aerospace technicians and some engineers, though specifics regarding positions and pay were not revealed. The surge — almost exclusively for U.S. government customers — comes at a time when Congress is gridlocked on even the smallest budget items. ULA is producing 50 percent more rockets, each with a price tag reported to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. (2/20)

There’s More to Nothing Than We Knew (Source: New York Times)
Why is there something, rather than nothing at all? It is, perhaps, the mystery of last resort. Scientists may be at least theoretically able to trace every last galaxy back to a bump in the Big Bang, to complete the entire quantum roll call of particles and forces. But the question of why there was a Big Bang or any quantum particles at all was presumed to lie safely out of scientific bounds, in the realms of philosophy or religion. Click here. (2/20)

NASA's Role in the Presidential Race (Source: WZVN Ft. Myers)
The aerospace industry is credited with providing 86,000 jobs and $4 billion in yearly revenue. NASA and the Kennedy Space Center has long been at the center of it, but with the space shuttles now retired, NASA's going through a makeover. "I'm proposing some difficult cuts that, frankly, I wouldn't normally make if they weren't absolutely necessary, but they are," said President Obama in his budget proposal speech.

President Obama's budget proposes cutting NASA's budget by 20%. He scrapped George W. Bush's effort to return astronauts to the moon, instead setting his sights on getting humans on an asteroid and eventually to Mars. Mitt Romney doesn't talk about specific missions. He says a sweeping vision for NASA should come from collaboration between military, academic, and private sectors.

Newt Gingrich envisions a permanent lunar colony by the year 2020. He thinks cash prizes, such as a $10 billion prize to the first company to put a human on Mars, can spur space exploration. Rick Santorum wants to bring in more minds from the private sector. He wants to scale back what he calls NASA's "government bureaucracy." Ron Paul wants to turn NASA over to the private sector. He jokingly said during a debate in Florida that he wants to send "politicians to the moon." (2/20)

Search Continues for Secret John Glenn Stamps (Source: Collect Space)
Fifty years ago Monday (Feb. 20), John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, relied on ground stations located across the planet to communicate with his control team. But after his Mercury spacecraft, Friendship 7, safely splashed down, it was another type of station that took over tracking his historic mission: U.S. post offices.

For the first and only time in the country's postal history, the United States Post Office Department — since 1971, the U.S. Postal Service — surprised the public with the release of a secret stamp celebrating Glenn's successful mission. The 4-cent "Project Mercury" postage stamp was revealed and immediately put on sale in 305 post offices within an hour of Glenn's triumphant return to Earth at 2:43 p.m. EST on Feb. 20, 1962. Half a century later, collectors are still searching for those first-day-of-issue stamps.

The Post Office Department wanted to keep the stamp a secret in case the mission failed. Keeping the production and distribution of more than one million postage stamps a surprise though, required some creative logistics. Knowledge of the Project Mercury stamp project was kept on a need-to-know basis. Just over 400 people knew the secret, about half of them postal inspectors. The stamp's designer, Charles Chickering, worked from home to create the blue and yellow depiction of Friendship 7 circling the Earth while all along claiming to be on vacation. Click here. (2/20)

New Angry Birds Game Planned with NASA (Source: LA Times)
Angry Birds.... in spaaaaace! On March 22, our furious red feathered friends are set to go to the moon and beyond in a new game called Angry Birds Space, according to Rovio, the Finnish company that created the Angry Birds empire. "It's one small fling for a bird, one quantum leap for birdkind," the game maker says in an online launch teaser.

On its company's blog, Rovio said Angry Birds Space will be an entirely new game, but regular players will still notice lots of familiar elements. One thing that won't be familiar? Zero-gravity conditions that players will have to contend with as the birds arrive on new planets. (2/20)

Glenn Dismisses Lunar Base as Too Expensive (Source: Florida Today)
On the golden anniversary of his historic launch into orbit and the history books, legendary astronaut John Glenn today bemoaned the current state of the U.S. human space flight program but dismissed the idea of a lunar base as too expensive. “I think we can do an awful lot with robotics, and I think we should exhaust our robotics efforts on the moon before we really plan a lunar base,” Glenn said at a NASA forum at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. "I’m not sure it’s a wise expenditure to just see if you can do something like that without some kind of idea of what kind of research you are going to do once you get there.” (2/20)

China Eyes Manned Docking in 2012 (Source: Aviation Week)
China plans to perform its first manned space docking operation this year, with the Shenzhou 9 capsule and three crew members due to be launched between June and August. Following what national space contractor CAST calls the thoroughly successful Shenzhou 8 unmanned and automated docking trial last year, the Shenzhou 9 crew will use manual control to join their craft. (2/20)

No comments: