March 12, 2012

Williams Departs SpaceX to Lead "Capture10" (Source: SilverStrategy)
Capture10 announced today that it will be opening its headquarters this April in the District of Columbia. The firm will be led by Lawrence Williams, who most recently served as Vice President for Strategic Relations at SpaceX and as an advisor for Tesla Motors, companies founded and run by entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Capture10 will provide business development strategies to create and pursue new billion dollar markets, which often have muti-year acquisition cycles. Williams has a proven track record of securing government and international market access through direct sales, distribution agreements, partnerships, shaping procurements and regulatory approvals.

Williams opened SpaceX Washington Operations in 2004 with responsibility for government relations and international business development, and subsequently moved into strategy. Prior to SpaceX, Williams served as Senior Vice President for Business Development for the satellite communications company ICO Global Communications and was a founding team member of Craig McCaw and Bill Gates’ “Internet in the Sky” system, Teledesic. (3/12)

Astronaut Named President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (Source: CSF)
The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is pleased to announce that former NASA astronaut, International Space Station (ISS) commander, Naval Aviator, and test pilot Michael E. Lopez-Alegria (Capt., U.S. Navy, Ret.) has been named as President, effective March 19, 2012. Lopez-Alegria was selected for the position following a vote of the Board of Directors of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF). As President, Lopez-Alegria will lead the Federation staff, and work with the 40+ members of the Federation, which include providers of commercial orbital and suborbital spaceflight, spaceports and launch facilities, suppliers, and educational and research institutions. (3/12)

Shenzhou-9 May Take Female Astronaut to Space (Source: Xinhua)
Authorities have completed the initial selection of crew members for China's first manned space docking mission, and the roster includes female astronauts, an official with the country's manned space program has said. But the final three-person crew will be decided "on the very last condition," said Niu Hongguang, deputy commander-in-chief of the country's manned space program and deputy head of the General Armament Department of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. (3/12)

Commercial Crew in the Spotlight (Source: Space Review)
NASA's proposal to spend over $800 million in 2013 on its commercial crew program has raised concerns in Congress, including in two hearings last week. Jeff Foust reports on those congressional concerns and the responses from NASA and industry. Visit to view the article. (3/12)

American Intelligence Collection on the Soviet Shuttle Program (Source: Space Review)
As the Soviet Union started development of its version of the Space Shuttle, the Buran, what did American intelligence agencies know about it? Dwayne Day reviews available records to track their efforts and identify missteps they made along the way. Visit to view the article. (3/12)

Competition and the Future of the EELV Program (Source: Space Review)
Rising costs of EELV-class launches threaten to hinder NASA's ability to support a range of science missions. Stewart Money examines how the government got into this situation and a potential way out. Visit to view the article. (3/12)

Reopening the Window of Opportunity (Source: Space Review)
Newt Gingrich was briefly in the news about space last week, making a campaign stop in Huntsville, Alabama. Jeff Foust traces back some Gingrich's space policy comments to a book he wrote nearly three decades earlier that offered a optimistic, if ultimately unrealistic, look at America's potential future in space. Visit to view the article. (3/12)

Spaceship Company Gets California Grant for Energy Efficiency (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The Spaceship Company (TSC), the joint venture of Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites, received a $290,206 incentive check for completing the Savings By Design energy efficiency program with the design of its Final Assembly, Integration and Test Hangar, or FAITH, at the Mojave Air and Space Port.

The California-based energy program, offered by Southern California Edison, provides building owners and design teams a range of services including design assistance, Design Team Incentives, Owners Incentives and Energy Design Resources. To encourage owners to invest in energy efficiency, the program incentivizes the construction of new buildings that exceed California’s Title 24 Energy Efficiency Standards by at least 10 percent, based on a whole-building performance analysis. The maximum incentive per project is $500,000. (3/12)

SpaceX Eyes Shuttle Launch Pad for Heavy-Lift Rocket (Source:
SpaceX and NASA are in advanced discussions for the private space firm to use Kennedy Space Center's pad 39A, one of the spaceport's Apollo and space shuttle launch sites, as the Florida base for its Falcon Heavy rocket, officials said. NASA and SpaceX are studying how to assemble and launch Falcon Heavy rockets from pad 39A, including adding a facility to horizontally integrate the launcher's core stage, two strap-on boosters and upper stage.

With 28 liquid-fueled core, booster and upper stage engines, the Falcon Heavy rocket is a behemoth booster designed to launch human and robotic exploration missions, massive U.S. military satellites, and huge payloads for commercial clients at competitive prices. Its first demonstration launch from California is scheduled for 2013. Instead of using the VAB, SpaceX plans to piece the rocket together on its side, then roll it to the launch pad and lift it vertical before liftoff.

"KSC did an assessment of options for SpaceX to consider relative to their non-exclusive use of pad 39A," said Michael Braukus, a NASA spokesperson, in an email to Spaceflight Now. "KSC is currently in a second round of more detailed discussion; however, no decisions have been made by either NASA or SpaceX at this time." A SpaceX spokesperson said pad 39A was one of the launch sites being considered for the Falcon Heavy. She did not say what other sites were being evaluated. (3/12)

Sea Launch Wins Commercial Launch Customers (Source: Sea Launch)
Sea Launch has been selected to launch the EUTELSAT 70B and Intelsat 27 communications satellites in early late 2012 and early 2013, respectively. The satellites will be launched from the company's Odyssey deep-sea launch platform, aboard Ukrainian-Russian Zenit 3SL rockets. (3/12)

FAA Plans Next Round of Space Infrastructure Grants (Source: IPinSpace)
The Federal Register, has some good news for those of you looking for a little extra cash to build industrial space launch facilities! The FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA/AST) has issued a solicitation for FY2012 Space Transportation Infrastructure Matching Grants. The FAA/AST will provide matching funds for selected proposals.

This program is the latest iteration of the Commercial Space Transportation Grants Program. The Commercial Space Transportation Grants Program first funded additions to space launch facilities in FY2010, when the Mojave Air and Spaceport received $125,000 to purchase an emergency response vehicle. Other organizations, such as Jacksonville, Florida’s Cecil Field, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority and the Alaska Aerospace Corp., also received matching grants. The FAA/AST hopes to award grants under this program by July 17. Submissions are due by May 11. The actual amount of funding this program will receive is at yet undetermined. Click here. (3/12)

Iridium NEXT Constellation Passes Milestones Toward 2015 Launch (Source: Iridium)
With the planned commencement of the launch of its next-generation satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT, less than 36 months away, Iridium announces the completion of the satellite preliminary design review phase of the program. This phase concludes the preliminary design and specifications for all elements of the satellite system, including payload, main mission antenna, feeder links and cross links.

By completing the preliminary design phase of Iridium NEXT satellites, Iridium and its partners will now begin constructing engineering model units that will be used to verify the design and performance of the system prior to full construction start in 2013. Iridium expects to complete its constellation (Space Segment) Critical Design Review Phase in early 2013. (3/12)

LightSquared Failure Could Keep Rural Nevada Off the Grid (Source: Las Vegas Sun)
Last spring, LightSquared traveled to the desert near Las Vegas to test a high-speed wireless network that the communications company promised would blanket the country in connectivity within three years. What they found — what many say federal regulators already knew — so stymied the company’s application to build that network that the failure could be a roadblock to similar wireless development, all but guaranteeing that large swathes of rural Nevada will remain off the grid. (3/12)

After LightSquared’s Tumble, Satellite Firms Still Investing in Growth (Source: Washington Post)
Local satellite firms are expecting growth and launching new technology even as LightSquared watches its business prospects dim after failing to hold onto needed federal approval. The satellite business is an inherently rocky one; historically, it’s not unusual for companies to go bankrupt because of the high costs of launching and maintaining satellites, said Brian Ruttenbur, an analyst with investment banking firm Morgan Keegan.

But Ruttenbur said he still sees growth, particularly for companies that specialize in satellite broadband, or Internet provided by satellites as opposed to Earth-bound networks. “I think the long-term story is very good for this,” he said. Amy Yong, an analyst with Macquarie Securities, said limited broadband penetration in many rural areas — and the likelihood that oceans and remote areas will never have physical broadband infrastructure — gives satellite broadband “a natural market.” (3/12)

Design a Mission Patch to Win a Zero Gravity Flight! (Source: WIRED)
Have you ever had that dream where you’re flying? Where you swoop through the air, floating free? Well, here’s your chance to live the dream. (And let me tell you from experience, it is really REALLY amazing!) To commemorate their 300th commercial flight, the Zero Gravity Corporation is looking for a special mission patch design. The winning artwork will be transformed into a patch that will be worn on the right arm of the participant’s flight suit. The designer will also win a free seat aboard flight “ZG-300″ taking off from the Ft. Lauderdale airport in Florida (same site as ZG-1!) on April 14, 2012. (3/12)

Incoming Asteroid: It'll Be Close (Source: Toronto Sun)
It will come from space, be as massive as half a football field, have the explosive power to decimate hundreds of square miles of land and will hurtle perilously close to Earth. The speed will be a blinding 8 km per second. It is called 2012-DA14, an asteroid that NASA scientists have been watching closely in anticipation of February 15 of next year, when the mammoth piece of solid space rock will soar past the Earth a mere 24,000 kms from the planet’s surface. It will be passing even lower than the altitude at which many man-made satellites orbit.

And while officials at the U.S. space agency say there is “zero” chance of impact, they still consider it a rare and intimate brush with what will be the largest asteroid to get this close to Earth since NASA began seriously watching them almost 14 years ago. In fact 2012-DA14 is eerily similar to an asteroid that destroyed hundreds of square miles of forest in remote Siberia a little over a century ago. (3/12)

NASA May Need to Use Russian Flights Longer (Source: Wall Street Journal)
NASA is drafting backup plans to prolong the use of Russian spacecraft for ferrying astronauts to the International Space Station, even as agency officials play down those options and express hope that private rockets and capsules will be available for such trips within five years. Charles Bolden said NASA was taking early steps to line up additional Russian spacecraft because budget constraints were delaying the development of commercial crew vehicles. (3/12)

Dextre and RRM Complete Record Breaking Week of Robotics on ISS (Source:
Canada’s Dextre robotic space helper, working with NASA’s Robotic Refuelling Mission (RRM) experiment, have together completed a record breaking week of robotics operations on the International Space Station (ISS), a week which saw the first ever attempt at satellite servicing tasks successfully performed in space. Click here. (3/12)

Villain in Disguise: Jupiter’s Role in Impacts on Earth (Source: Astrobiology)
Jupiter is often credited for shielding Earth from catastrophic asteroid and comet impacts. But new simulations of the influence of gas giant planets in solar systems casts doubt on Jupiter's reputation as Earth's protector. Click here. (3/12)

The Dangers of Space Weather (Source: Smart Planet)
The most powerful solar storms in the last five years threatened to wreak havoc with our digital systems on Earth last week. To find out just what solar storms are, why they are in the news recently and why we are more vulnerable to them than ever before, Smart Planet turned to space weather expert Bill Murtagh, program coordinator for the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center. Click here. (3/12)

Suit Alleges Dismissal for Intelligent Design (Source: AP)
NASA JPL's latest mission is defending itself in a workplace lawsuit filed by a former computer specialist who claims he was demoted — and then let go — for promoting his views on intelligent design, the belief that a higher power must have had a hand in creation because life is too complex to have developed through evolution alone. David Coppedge, who worked as a "team lead" on the Cassini mission exploring Saturn and its many moons, alleges that he was discriminated against because he engaged his co-workers in conversations about intelligent design and handed out DVDs on the idea while at work. Coppedge lost his "team lead" title in 2009 and was let go last year after 15 years on the mission.

Opening statements are expected to begin Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court after two years of legal wrangling in a case that has generated interest among supporters of intelligent design. The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian civil rights group, and the Discovery Institute, a proponent of intelligent design, are both supporting Coppedge's case. "It's part of a pattern. There is basically a war on anyone who dissents from Darwin and we've seen that for several years," said John West of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute. "This is free speech, freedom of conscience 101."

Coppedge's attorney, William Becker, says his client was singled out by his bosses because they perceived his belief in intelligent design to be religious. Coppedge had a reputation around JPL as an evangelical Christian and other interactions with co-workers led some to label him as a Christian conservative, Becker said. In the lawsuit, Coppedge says he believes other things also led to his demotion, including his support for a state ballot measure that sought to define marriage as limited to heterosexual couples and his request to rename the annual holiday party a "Christmas party." (3/12)

California Museum Prepares for Endeavour Space Shuttle (Source: LA Times)
The California Science Center will soon begin construction of an aircraft hangar for the space shuttle Endeavour, the museum's president said. The hangar will be built northwest of the state-run museum, near downtown Los Angeles, Jeffrey N. Rudolph, president of the science center, said. Construction is scheduled to begin in a couple of weeks. The temporary climate-controlled home will allow the museum to make Endeavour available for public viewing within weeks of its arrival in the fall. During that time, it will be displayed horizontally. (3/12)

NASA Needs Robot Arms for High-Orbit Satellite Repairs (Source: Innovation News Daly)
NASA can't send astronauts to fix satellites or spacecraft that break down in very high orbit above the Earth. That's why the U.S. space agency has called for robotic arms that can help repair satellites latch onto any spacecraft in need of a tune-up or refueling. A repair satellite might use two or three robot arms to capture and servicing another spacecraft, according to a NASA request for information issued March 9. Such life-extension repairs could enable space missions to stay alive in high geosynchronous orbits. (3/12)

Company Gets $1.9 Million from NASA to Develop Debris Removal Spacecraft (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA has awarded a $1.9 million contract to a South Carolina company for the development of the ElectroDynamic Debris Eliminator (EDDE) vehicle, which is designed to clean up the growing debris problem in low Earth orbit. Star Technology and Research (STAR) was awarded the contract under NASA’s Game Changing Technology program. STAR President Jerome Pearson is the project’s principal investigator.

“This is a new contract that started last month and will run for 2 years,” said Joe Carroll of Tether Applications, which is partnered on the project. “The focus is maturing technologies for EDDE on the ground; we may get a flight experiment later if the work goes well.” Click here for details. (3/12)

Roscosmos Denies Receiving NASA Offer to Extend Contract to Fly to ISS (Source: Interfax)
NASA has not yet asked the Russian Federal Space Agency to sign a contract to use Russian Soyuz spacecraft to ferry U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS) from 2016 to 2017, Roscosmos manned flight programs director Alexei Krasnov said. "The contract signed by us is valid through 2015. But this contract has not been prolonged for 2016-2017, and negotiations on prolonging it are not being held at the moment. (3/12)

Playing Hardball (Source: Behind the Black)
The director of Russia’s manned program told the press that the Russians do not have that a signed contract with NASA to fly astronauts to ISS after 2015, despite NASA’s announcement that such an agreement exists. If true, NASA’s management has committed a very serious error which will cost the U.S. a great deal of money in the coming years, especially if there are significant delays in getting the new commercial companies online to provide the U.S. an American capability for ferrying humans to orbit.

Since they became capitalists following the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russians have become very good and tough negotiators. Once you have a signed agreement with them, you can rely on them to fulfill their part of the bargain, to the letter. The key phrase, however, is “to the letter.” If you miss something in the negotiations, they will demand and get every possible additional penny they can from you. And if you don’t pay up, you won’t get it. (3/12)

Mojave Space Port Close to Hiring Director of Economic Development (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The Mojave Air and Space Port is getting close to hiring a director of economic development and aerospace growth and is looking to make other enhancements to improve the experience of tenants at the desert facility and keep Mojave at the cutting edge of aerospace development. Last Tuesday, General Manager and CEO Stu Witt told the East Kern Airport District Board of Directors that he has interviewed three of four finalists for the economic development position. The new hire will work to promote the airport, develop new business, and provide value-added services for tenants.

Witt said he was very impressed with candidates, saying they all had high quality, depth of experience, and great ideas for how to perform the job. He expects to have a recommendation for the board in April. Speaking of jobs, Witt mentioned that companies at the airport are looking to fill several hundred positions as they ramp up on programs. The Spaceship Company is conducting a jobs fair in Wichita, Kansas next week to recruit workers. (3/12)

No comments: