May 22, 2012

Obama Campaign Releases Fact Sheet on Space (Source: SpaceRef)
"President Obama has laid out an ambitious new direction for NASA, laying the groundwork for a sustainable program of exploration and innovation. This new direction extends the life of the International Space Station, supports the growing commercial space industry, and addresses important scientific challenges while continuing our commitment to robust human space exploration, science, and aeronautics programs. While the President has a sustainable plan for continued space exploration, Mitt Romney has failed to articulate a commitment to a positive role for NASA in space exploration, and his budget plans would force the deepest cuts to the space program since just after we landed on the moon." Click here. (5/22)

Iranian 'Cyber Warriors Team' Takes Credit for NASA Hack (Source: MSNBC)
A group of Iranian student hackers known as the Cyber Warriors Team claims to have stolen the personal information of thousands of NASA researchers. The Cyber Warriors Team boasted in a May 16 Pastebin post that it exploited a secure sockets layer (or SSL) vulnerability in the space agency's website to swipe "information for thousands of NASA researcher[s] with emails and accounts of other users." In the hackers' poorly worded English message, "How and reasons to Hack NASA SSL Certificate," the group said the security glitch still exists, and leaves the agency open to more malicious attacks. (5/22)

North Korea Revamps Rocket Launch Site (Source: AP)
Satellite imagery shows North Korea is revamping its old rocket-launch site to accommodate larger rockets, a U.S. institute claimed on Tuesday. North Korea threatened to push ahead with its nuclear program despite pressure from the international community to halt nuclear testing, after the U.N. condemned its failed rocket launch in mid-April. The U.S. and other nations have expressed concern that North Korea is expanding its rocket program so that its missiles will be able to carry nuclear weapons. North Korea shot back at U.S. attempts to ratchet up sanctions on its nuclear program, claiming they have “no option but to take countermeasures for self-defense.” (5/22)

Space Policy Is a Hard Sell, Says Holdren (Source: Science)
Presidential science adviser John Holdren made a frank admission today: Selling the Administration’s plan to restructure the U.S. space program hasn’t been easy. And the reason underscores an important lesson about communicating science to the public: Keep the message simple.

In 2010, President Barack Obama announced that he was scrapping his predecessor’s 2004 vision for returning astronauts to the moon as a stepping stone to Mars because it was unaffordable and threatened to undermine NASA’s other programs, which include telescopes and other robotic exploration missions, Earth observation, and advanced aeronautics. In addition to abandoning plans for a lunar landing in 2020, the new policy assigns private companies the job of ferrying crew and cargo to and from the international space station so that NASA can be free to pursue more advanced technologies.

The Administration even evoked the country’s past achievements in space, declaring that the new approach would be “putting science back into rocket science.” The new policy strikes a much better balance among all the parts of NASA’s $18 billion budget, Holdren explained to an audience attending a 2-day symposium on the science of communicating science. But it requires a sophisticated understanding of the subject. (5/22)

Roscosmos, JAXA Officials Advocate Lunar Exploration (Source: Space News)
NASA is setting its sights on an asteroid as the next big landing destination for astronaut explorers, but senior officials with two of the agency’s international space station (ISS) partners say the Moon should be the goal. The most senior of these officials is Vladimir Popovkin, head of the Russian federal space agency, Roscosmos, who said lunar missions are his agency’s top priority for human exploration. Popovkin said the space station partners should use the outpost to test technologies needed for a return to the Moon.

Without explicitly endorsing Popovkin’s call for permanent Moon bases, a senior official from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) agreed that space agencies across the globe should look to send human explorers to the Moon, and to use the space station to test the technology needed to get there. The Moon “is the next destination for mankind,” said Yuichi Yamaura, associate executive director of JAXA. (5/22)

Iran to Launch Satellite Into Space Wednesday (Source:
Iran is poised to launch a new satellite into space on Wednesday (May 23), a mission that if successful would mark the country's first flight of a spacecraft capable of maneuvering in orbit, experts say. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) announced that Iran is set to launch a satellite called Fajr (or "Dawn") atop a Safir 1B rocket on a mission to demonstrate the country's first use of a maneuverable spacecraft in orbit. (5/22)

NASA, NSBRI Select 29 Proposals To Support Crew Health On Missions (Source: NASA)
NASA's Human Research Program (HRP) and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) of Houston will fund 29 proposals to help investigate questions about astronaut health and performance on future deep space exploration missions. The selected proposals are from 25 institutions in 11 states and will receive a total of about $26 million over a one- to three-year period. Editor's Note: None of the winners are in Florida. (5/22)

GSA Outlines Disposal Process for Moffett Field (Source: Mountain View Voice)
Moffett Federal Airfield isn't officially up for grabs until the General Services Administration receives a "Report of Excess" from NASA, according to the GSA. That's when the GSA begins looking for another owner for Moffett. It must first be offered to federal agencies, 17 of which are designated as landholding agencies, such as the Army, FEMA or Department of Veterans Affairs, said a GSA spokesperson.

But first GSA needs to gather input from Moffett's stakeholders and look at the historic preservation and environmental laws that pertain to Moffett. If there are no takers on the federal level, it is then declared surplus federal property and the Department of Housing and Urban Development decides whether the property is useable for a homeless shelter, a use which must be considered before all others. (5/22)

Moffett Airfield's Value Stretches Beyond NASA (Source: San Jose Mercury News)
NASA's recent decision to designate Moffett Federal Airfield as excess property has far-reaching implications for the local economy, disaster response, and quality of life for residents. The decision was made with little consideration of these factors and must be reversed to mitigate serious long-term consequences. Among those directly affected will be the local defense industry, which uses Moffett to transport cargo; the California National Guard, which provides specialized air rescue and emergency response; and Bay Area residents who are accustomed to the limited air traffic and reduced road congestion.

As the largest tenant of the airfield since 1978, the 129th Rescue Wing may have the carpet pulled out from beneath it just two years after the same NASA administrator approved a 50-year lease with the Air Force establishing Moffett as the wing's permanent base. The Air Force has since obligated $40 million in new construction projects that are bringing much-needed jobs to the Bay Area.

California and the federal government have spent the past decade developing capabilities and strategies to use Moffett to support response and recovery operations following an earthquake or other regional disaster. Declaring the property excess places these efforts at risk and forces local governments to fill gaps when they clearly do not have the means to do so. (5/22)

Rohrabacher Praises SpaceX and NASA (Source: Rep. Rohrabacher)
"I congratulate NASA and SpaceX on a successful launch, and wish them success on the demonstrations to be performed on this flight...Private industry and NASA are taking these next steps together, which will hopefully become the new way of doing business in space. SpaceX once again shows how much it carries the mantle of our earliest space endeavors by achieving what many experts considered impossible just a few short years ago. This successful launch of the Falcon 9, built right here in Southern California, is a new high water mark for developing and building the next generation of commercial domestic rockets. (5/22)

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison Pleased with SpaceX Launch Success (Source: Sen. Hutchison)
"There are many crucial milestones to be reached and capabilities to be demonstrated during this flight, all of which we hope leads to a demonstrated ability to provide cargo service to the International Space Station. Reliable cargo delivery is critical to fully utilizing this magnificent National Laboratory capability, in which we have invested so much as a nation and as a partnership." (5/22)

Chairman Ralph Hall Congratulates SpaceX on Successful Launch (Source: Rep. Hall)
"I am hopeful that the Dragon spacecraft will successfully complete its mission to supply cargo to the International Space Station and safely return to Earth. The unmanned launch, which took place early this morning out of Cape Canaveral, Florida, is the first of its kind. This is a complex mission, and if successful, will be a giant step forward in commercial cargo capability to the International Space Station."

"I have long supported the development of commercial cargo spaceflight, and while we still have a long way to go before American astronauts can fly aboard a commercial spacecraft, I hope SpaceX can build upon this success. I will continue to support those who can access the International Space Station, and want to keep the door open for our future successes.” (5/22)

NASA Appropriator Fattah Hails SpaceX Venture into Space (Source: Rep. Fattah)
“The successful launch... marks the beginning of an exciting new era in space travel. Endeavors like this will make it possible for the private industry to venture into outer space and capitalize on the associated economic growth. Make no mistake. The United States belongs in space, we need to be in space, and this mix of American innovation, private enterprise and government support will assure that we remain world leaders. Today’s launch is not just a single venture into space but a change in the trajectory of how we think of space exploration.” (5/22)

Private Rocket Launch Vindicates Commercial Spaceflight Model (Source:
Private spaceflight supporters saw a major validation today (May 22) with the successful launch of the first commercial vehicle to visit the International Space Station. "It demonstrates what we said was the future of American space exploration, and it's actually using private industry to provide for access to low-Earth orbit while NASA goes off and does what NASA does best, and that's exploring, doing things that private industry cannot do, or should not do," NASA administrator Charles Bolden said. However the plan has been criticized by some, including members of Congress, who question the safety and reliability of commercial vehicles. (5/22)

Former Astronaut Will Lead 100-Year Starship Effort (Source:
Star Trek's bold vision of the starship Enterprise manned by a diverse crew may no longer just be science fiction — especially with the first woman astronaut of color heading the real-life project. The U.S. military has chosen Mae Jemison's nonprofit foundation to receive half a million dollars in seed funding to help turn the 100-Year Starship into reality.

The 100-Year Starship project faces the challenge of transforming the $500,000 from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) into an organization that does more than merely survive the next century. It must also spur the technological revolutions needed for human space travelers to survive the long journey to distant stars. (5/22)

Astrotech Regains NASDAQ Listing (Source: Astrotech)
Astrotech Corp. has received notice from the NASDAQ Stock Market that the Company has regained compliance with Marketplace Listing Rule 5550(a)(2), relating to the maintenance of a minimum $1.00 bid price. As a result, the Company's common stock will continue to be listed and trade on The NASDAQ Stock Market. In accordance with NASDAQ Marketplace Rules, the Company was required to evidence a closing bid price of at least $1.00 per share for ten consecutive trading days which it completed on May 18, 2012. (5/22)

Next Steps for Dragon's Approach to Space Station (Sources: SpaceToday, CBS)
The Dragon will spend the next two days approaching the ISS. Once there, it will maneuver around the station before approaching the station to be berthed to the station's Harmony node. Using the ISS Canadarm, astronauts onboard the Space Station are expected to capture the Dragon at 8:06 a.m. EDT on May 25. (5/22)

Virginia Spaceport Gains $19 Million in State Budget (Source: Spaceports Blog)
The Virginia General Assembly adopted Gov. Bob McDonnell's budget amendment to increase the Transportation Trust Fund support for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport from $7.5 million to $9.5 annually with the House of Delegates adopting the specific two-year budget amendment 93 to 2 and the Senate 40 to 0. Virginia will provide just under $50-million to the spaceport over the next five fiscal years, beginning July 1, 2012 by actions of the state legislators gathered in Richmond this year. (5/15)

IRVE3 "Space Brakes" to be Tested at Wallops (Source: Spaceports Blog)
Final preparations are underway for the launch of the Inflatable Re-Entry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE3) later this summer. It will be launched aboard a sounding rocket and the materials that make up the inflated heat shield will be put to the test on re-entry. The experiment may lead to advanced interplanetary "space brakes." (5/16)

Posey Congratulates SpaceX Ingenuity and Determination (Source: Rep. Posey)
“Congratulations to Space X and all their employees who achieved a great milestone this morning with the successful launch of their Falcon 9 rocket,” said Congressman Bill Posey, whose district includes the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. “This morning’s launch offers the public a glimpse of what the future holds for space travel and exploration. It’s a marvelous achievement for Space X, for our scientists and engineers and for the American commercial space industry. We all hope the coming days will see Space X achieve the central mission objectives as the Dragon capsule rendezvous with the space station.” (5/22)

Why the Private Sector Has a Future in Space Travel (Source: PolicyMic)
This is a step in the right direction to getting space travel off the taxpayer's dole, but we have a long way to go. As I commented before on PolicyMic, public-private partnerships open up an opportunity for cronyism; the government may award benefits to their friends and pass risk onto taxpayers. The federal government has promised to give over $2 billion to help SpaceX carry cargo to the International Space Station over the next several years — who knows if this money is being spent wisely.

American taxpayers should hope that this mission goes off with a bang. I hope that it does. It shows that government does not have to be the sole provider of space travel; it shows that the private sector can step up to the plate. There is a huge profit incentive with space flight, and investors and private companies will likely rush in as soon as the government lets go of its monopoly and gets out of the way.

If all goes well with SpaceX, then perhaps more commercial U.S. spacecraft will be able to enter the market for space travel. It may free up resources for bigger projects, such as missions to Mars. It may open up space to tourism. It may do a number of things — we don't know what we don't know. It's good that the U.S. is giving private space travel a fighting chance. (5/22)

Florida Could Lose 39,000 Jobs with Defense Cuts (Source: Florida Times-Union)
Sequestration cuts could cost Florida more than 39,000 jobs, according to a study by the Aerospace Industries Association. "We're here because there's a real crisis brewing for our company, our industry and our country," said Kaman CEO Neal Keating at an employee rally this week attended by nearly 400 employees. "There are plenty of ways to find the revenue to not have to go through this devastating cut," U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-FL, said. (5/22)

Romney: Obama to Blame for Defense Cuts (Source: Washington Post)
The scheduled 10-year, $1.2 trillion across-the-board spending cut, or “sequester,” that was called for in last August’s bipartisan debt deal, is expected to take effect in January. Half of it will hit defense spending.
Mitt Romney says the sequestration is President Obama's fault, but he fails to note that it was part of a deal negotiated by the White House and leaders of both parties, a sweeping proposal that was approved by nearly three-quarters of the House Republican conference and six in 10 Senate Republicans.

“Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has taken actions that will only undermine the [NATO] alliance. The U.S. military is facing nearly $1 trillion in cuts over the next ten years... I will reverse Obama-era military cuts,” the Romney statement reads. The facts point to a more complicated picture. Congress has already had one opportunity to reverse those scheduled defense cuts – the bipartisan, 12-member “supercommittee” tasked with drafting a far-reaching debt reduction plan. The panel announced its failure to agree on a plan last November.

During the months when the supercommittee was meeting, the political battle over the sequester was already a fierce one, and, as we’ve noted, it was mainly Republicans who were raising the issue of the defense cuts. Going forward, leaders on both sides acknowledge that to reverse the defense cuts, they need broader bipartisan agreement, likely after the election. (5/22)

Space Colony Earth to Offer Archival of DNA, Transport to Space (Source: Space Colony Earth)
Beginning July 4, 2012, Space Colony Earth will begin accepting applications for those who wish to begin the process of developing their Legacies and Family 'ARKhives'. The Living ARKhives will contain the DNA from Space Colony Earth members and be stored in all three locations, Earth Ark, Lunar Ark, and Starship Ark. Family DNA Pods will contain DNA from up to 12 family members and is limited to 1.5 million Pods. Click here. (5/22)

Successful Launch Kicks off SpaceX’s Historic Mission (Source: SpaceX)
SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon spacecraft to orbit in an exciting start to the mission that will make SpaceX the first commercial company in history to attempt to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station – something only a handful of governments have ever accomplished. At 3:44 a.m. EDT, the Falcon 9 carrying Dragon launched from SpaceX’s launch pad at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. Now Dragon heads toward the International Space Station. On that journey it will be subjected to a series of tests to determine if the vehicle is ready to berth with the station.

The vehicle’s first stage performed nominally before separating from the second stage. The second stage successfully delivered the Dragon spacecraft into its intended orbit. This marks the third consecutive successful Falcon 9 launch and the fifth straight launch success for SpaceX. (5/22)

Griffin Named President of AIAA (Source: Huntsville Times)
Michael Griffin, the former NASA Administrator who is now an eminent scholar at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, has taken on additional duties. Griffin has been named president of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. According to UAH, Griffin will be the first president of AIAA to serve a two-year term. During that time, he intends to focus the institute's efforts on increasing membership by further broadening the relevance of AIAA to today's aerospace professionals. (5/22)

Russia Likely to Halt Joint Space Program with Ukraine, Kazakhstan (Source: Xinhua)
Russia is "very likely" to halt its joint Dnepr space program with Ukraine and Kazakhstan due to commercial and environmental concerns, according to Roscosmos. The Dnepr program has been using Russia's decommissioned PC-20 (Satan SS-18 by NATO classification) intercontinental ballistic missiles as rocket-carriers. "The Defense Ministry believes the program becomes economically lean and environmentally unsafe," Roscosmos said. Besides, the Defense Ministry insists that Dnepr plunders resources out of the ministry's budget. Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan started the Dnepr joint program in 1999, with Russia contributing its PC-20 missiles for launches of space vehicles. (5/22)

NASA's McAlister on Falcon-9 Launch Success (Source: Discovery)
"I believe that this transition is very important for continuing the push outward into the solar system," NASA's Phil McAlister, who oversees the agency's commercial spaceflight programs, said at a pre-launch press conference. "Once we get private enterprise and economic interests out to low-Earth orbit there will be no turning back. It no longer will be subject to prevailing political winds," he said. (5/22)

OSTP's Holdren on Falcon-9 Launch Success (Source: NASA)
"Partnering with U.S. companies such as SpaceX to provide cargo and eventually crew service to the International Space Station is a cornerstone of the president's plan for maintaining America's leadership in space," according to President Obama's science advisor, John Holdren. "This expanded role for the private sector will free up more of NASA's resources to do what NASA does best -- tackle the most demanding technological challenges in space, including those of human space flight beyond low Earth orbit." (5/22)

ATK and Partners Advance Liberty Program (Source: AmericaSpace)
As NASA redirects its focus, energy and funding toward commercial, public-private efforts, companies within NASA’s family of contractors have adapted their efforts and offerings to reflect this new direction. One such company, ATK, has announced that it is now including a spacecraft into the mix. Initially dubbed the Composite Crew Module, the Liberty spacecraft as it is now called is the culmination of work started by ATK and Astrium. These two aerospace firms have been joined by a third, Lockheed Martin, which has come on board to assist in the development of the spacecraft.

This means ATK joins a very elite club, a fraternity of about only five companies that produce launch vehicles, launch abort systems and spacecraft – all under one roof. Moreover, only SpaceX and ATK have combined these separate elements into a single, integrated system. If ATK stays on-schedule with unmanned missions in 2014, crewed test flights the following year and actual missions to low-Earth-orbit by 2017 – the Utah-based firm could beat every other contender in the commercial space race. Click here for a feature on the ATK Liberty initiative. (5/22)

Iran Set to Launch Satellite to Monitor Israel (Source: AmericaSpace)
Iran is poised for the imminent launch of a Safir rocket carrying the Defense Ministry’s Fajr imaging satellite to begin tests of increasingly advanced spacecraft to build a viable Iranian space reconnaissance capability for use against Israel. Whether Iran can build such a capability before an Israeli attack against its nuclear facilities is undetermined.

The planned May 23 liftoff of the 29 ton Safir on 64,000 lb. thrust is to place the 60 lb. Fajr (Dawn) satellite into low Earth orbit for 1.5 years of operations. At the same time Iran is moving toward its first launch of the much larger Simorgh rocket that it has developed in connection with North Korea. That rocket closely mirrors the design of the North Korean rocket that failed in April. (5/22)

CASIS: SpaceX Launch Success Leads to ISS Opportunities (Source: CASIS)
The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit organization managing research on the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, would like to congratulate SpaceX on the achieving a significant milestone today with the successful launch of the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule, both heading to the ISS to attempt a docking demonstration for NASA.

Transportation of commercial cargo to and from the ISS is key to the sustainability of the U.S. Space program. With this most recent successful SpaceX launch, and the anticipated Dragon docking demonstration at the ISS in the coming week, CASIS looks forward to working with SpaceX to deliver research payloads to the ISS National Lab in the near future.

Currently, there are 24 manifested payload flight/transport opportunities scheduled to fly payloads to the ISS between 2012 and 2013. CASIS has access to 50% of all NASA’s currently manifested up-mass allocation on all vehicles provided by our international partners and private commercial companies, like SpaceX. CASIS payloads will facilitate extraordinary R&D innovations through utilization of the unparalleled research platform of the ISS. (5/22)

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