April 1, 2012

Congressional Concerns About CASIS (Source: Space Politics)
The work of the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit selected by NASA last year to manage research on the US segment of the station, also faced some scrutiny. “The former director of CASIS raised a number of serious concerns in her recent resignation letter,” said committee ranking member Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), referring to the letter from Jeanne Becker a month ago. “This committee will need to better understand what the situation is given the important role [of CASIS] in International Space Station utilization.” She said she hoped that the committee would hold another hearing to get the perspectives of the research community.

“They gave to us an annual performance plan of objectives and milestones they were to accomplish during this year,” Gerstenmaier said of CASIS in response to a later question about the organization. “I have sent them a letter and asked them to respond to us by today or tomorrow on what their plan is to achieve those milestones that we’ve established with them.”

Edwards suggested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examine the effectiveness of CASIS. “For me, the resignation of the executive director and the problems that she highlighted are really troubling,” she said. On that request, she had the endorsement of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). “I think it’s a request that we could all support,” he said. (3/30)

Congress OKs Bill to Allow Road to Wallops Facility (Source: Virginian-Pilot)
The U.S. House has approved legislation that would remove a federal block on Accomack County's efforts to develop land as part of a research park near NASA Wallops Flight Facility. The bill, which now goes to the Senate, would lift a federal deed restriction on almost 32 acres of vacant county land that has prevented local officials from building a road to the research park. The measure passed 240-164 on Tuesday.

U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell, who sponsored the bill, said during the floor debate that the county - one of the poorest in Virginia - is trying to create new jobs but is hampered by restrictions put in place by the Department of the Interior. The Virginia Beach Republican's district includes the Eastern Shore counties. The property, formerly owned by the Interior Department, was turned over to the county in 1976 with the caveat that it be used only for recreational purposes. Part of the property was at one time used for a baseball field, but it has sat dormant for years. (3/21)

Heavy-Lift Rocket Completes Step One of Combined Milestone Reviews (Source: Space Daily)
America's next heavy-lift launch vehicle - the Space Launch System - is one step closer to its first launch in 2017, following the successful completion of the first phase of a combined set of milestone reviews. The SLS Program has completed step one in a combined System Requirements Review and System Definition Review - both extensive NASA-led reviews that set requirements to further narrow the scope of the system design and evaluate the vehicle concept based on top-level program requirements. Click here. (4/1)

JPL Explores Sending CubeSats to Phobos (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Imagine retrieving a soil sample from the Martian moon Phobos and returning it to Earth using two spacecraft so small you can hold them in your hands. That’s just one of seven advanced inner Solar System missions using Cubesats that are being explored by Jet Propulsion Laboratory researchers under a study funded by the NASA Innovative Advance Concepts (NIAC) Program, which looks at technologies that are still about a decade away. Click here. (4/1)

Delta-4 Launch Moved to Tuesday (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
At a Sunday afternoon meeting of the Delta-4 mission management team, a decision was made to delay the launch an additional 24 hours. Liftoff is retargeted for Tuesday at 4:12 p.m. local (7:12 p.m. EDT). The previous upper stage engine problem that slipped the last from last week has not yet been cleared after all, and the team needs more time to work the concern. "The team is continuing to review data from an observation on the upper stage engine and requires additional time to complete its final assessment prior to launch," ULA said in a statement. (4/1)

Concepts Sought for Planetary Science From A Balloon-based Observatory (Source: SpaceRef)
NASA's Planetary Science Division is seeking community input on the potential planetary science that could be achieved from a stratospheric balloon observatory. A workshop to discuss platform capabilities, recent balloon missions for other NASA SMD divisions, and potential planetary science applications was held at NASA GRC in late January, 2012. Efforts to date have resulted in over 40 concepts for planetary science this platform may perform.

The next phase of this effort is to solicit review and comments from the broader planetary community. Your participation is crucial to ensure that the ideas put forward are the best they can be and are reflective of the needs and desires of the broad planetary community. Click here. (4/1)

NASA Budget Might Have Less Space for JPL's Planetary Science (Source: LA Times)
President Obama's $17.7-billion budget request for NASA for the 2013 fiscal year includes a $300-million cut to planetary science, the very work JPL specializes in. It's a dark development in an otherwise heady time. "We're on the verge of finding evidence of life as we know it," said Jim Bell, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University who has worked with JPL on Mars missions. "To pull back from that would be a real shame. It is nothing less than a shocking set of cuts." (4/1)

Russian Mission Control Center Lifts ISS Orbit (Source: Itar-Tass)
The Russian Mission Control Centre has made a test correction of the ISS orbit on Sunday to make sure everything works properly on board Edoardo Amaldi /ATV-3/, which joined the orbital complex on Thursday. It was carried out in an automatic mode, with two engines of the European "truck" ATV-3, docked to Russia’s Zvezda service module. The orientation of the station in space was provided by engines of Zvezda and of the Russian Progress M-14M cargo spacecraft. (4/1)

'60 Minutes' Spotlights the Unemployed on Space Coast (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
"Because of the stories we've done when a major employer closes, we were sensitive to what we thought would happen next," Pelley said. "In July, we heard a lot of people say, 'Things will be tough, but we'll be OK. I'm not going to close or lay off my employees.' Then reality sets in over the months. People found it more difficult than they expected."

The segment features Shuttles bar owner Bill Grillo, whose staff dropped from 25 to eight. Months later, Pelley found Shuttles closed and Grillo too sad to pack up. "That's the kind of things you see over time," Pelley said. "The danger of having a big event is that thousands descend on Brevard County, camp out and watch the launch. It's a great, exhilarating thing, the smoke clears, people drive away and never look back. (4/1)

Hancock Chamber of Commerce to Manage INFINITY Science Center (Source: WLOX)
Mayor George Schloegel, chairman of INFINITY Science Center, Inc., announced Friday that the Hancock Chamber of Commerce has been selected to manage and market INFINITY Science Center. "We didn't have to look any farther than our own backyard to find the right team for this important job," said Schloegel. The Chamber's Executive Director Tish Williams has a career in non-profit management and tourism marketing at the national, state and local level. Assistant Director Linda McCarthy has facility management and tourism marketing experience working for private sector arena and convention center management companies across the south. (4/1)

'Shuttles' Restaurant Up for Sale (Source: CFnews13)
The end of the space shuttle program means the end of Shuttles Dugout Sports Bar and Grill. It's a restaurant that catered to NASA employees for several decades. The owner who hopes his place will one day blast off again. “We were very dependent on workers at the Kennedy Space Center,” said Shuttles owner Bill Grillo. Shuttles has been in business since the dawn of the now ended shuttle program thirty years ago. Hundreds of astronauts and KSC employees have stopped by for meals. But once workers at the nearby Kennedy Space Center no longer came in, the owner was forced to put it up for sale. Grillo said in the months following the final shuttle launch, and the layoffs which followed, his business took a 70 percent dip in sales, forcing him to shutter the doors. (4/1)

Long-Overlooked Front Range Airport Apt to Spring to Life with New Economic Engines (Source: Denver Post)
For nearly 30 years, Front Range Airport has sprawled on prairie land near the Eastern Plains town of Watkins, managing to cling to life as development dreams have been dashed. Now, those dreams are once again at the forefront as the 4,000-acre airport's long-sought prosperity hinges on a mix of futuristic space travel, unmanned aircraft, new surrounding development and continued general-aviation services.

Up to now, Front Range has grown in spurts, in part due to infrastructure improvements fueled by on-airport and off-airport projects that have stalled. That relatively new infrastructure — a direct route to Denver International Airport, 6 miles to the northwest via East 56th Avenue, a Federal Aviation Administration air-traffic-control tower and utility systems — is expected to serve as the foundation for Front Range to take off. (4/1)

Bezos Invests in Space Travel, Time (Source: Seattle Times)
Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos has spent a chunk of his estimated $18 billion fortune on out-of-the-box ventures. He created a private aerospace company called Blue Origin in 2000 with an aim to make space travel more affordable, and he's spending millions to build a clock in the Texas desert that's supposed to last 10,000 years. Since 2010, NASA has committed nearly $26 million for Kent-based Blue Origin, which is competing with Boeing and two other companies to create a new generation of vehicles that can take U.S. astronauts to the international space station.

"My passion is for space, for sure, but I do think this can be made into a viable business," Bezos said in a 2007 TV interview with PBS' Charlie Rose. "You have to be very long-term oriented." His interest in space goes way back. As high-school valedictorian, Bezos aspired to develop space hotels, amusement parks and colonies for 2 million or 3 million people orbiting the Earth. Click here. (4/1)

LinkChina's Growing Space Industry to Become Leading Force (Source: China.org)
A commercial satellite has been launched in China, using the Chinese-built Long March 3-B rocket. It's the second commercial space launch China has provided to customers outside the mainland this year. With more launches expected, China is looking to become a leading force in the space industry. The Chinese Long March 3B rocket has just launched another mission. Carrying the European-built Apstar 7 telecommunications satellite, the rocket was shot into the sky on Friday.

"China plans to provide five commercial launches for international customers in 2012, and it has a further ambition to take a 15 percent share of the commercial launch market, and a 10 percent share of the satellite export market by 2015." It seems China is reaching the target with a steady pace, as clients say they're happy with the Chinese service. (4/1)

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