May 25, 2012

Senator Rubio Comments on SpaceX Mission (Source: Sen. Rubio)
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today issued the following statement regarding the historic SpaceX mission: “Congratulations to SpaceX for its successful launch and today’s berthing with the International Space Station. This is a historic milestone for space exploration and an important achievement for the commercial space industry. We no longer live in a world where space is only explored by government agencies, and we should all take pride that an American company is the first to accomplish this mission. I know that Floridians look forward to working with NASA and our commercial partners as they continue to prove their capabilities.” (5/25)

Rep. Posey Comments on SpaceX Mission (Source: Rep. Posey)
Congressman Bill Posey (R-FL) released the following statement congratulating SpaceX for completing another historic milestone for the commercial space industry: “I congratulate SpaceX and its employees for accomplishing another historic feat today when its Dragon capsule successfully berthed with the International Space Station,” said Congressman Bill Posey. “The completion of today’s space mission further underscores what’s possible when American scientists and engineers accept tough challenges and take another important step in U.S. space leadership.” (5/25)

EchoStar 17 Launch Delay Could Be Brief (Source: Space News)
The launch of the EchoStar 17 Ka-band broadband satellite, formerly called Jupiter, has been delayed for an undetermined amount of time to give manufacturer Space Systems/Loral time to make last-minute checks on the spacecraft, industry officials said. EchoStar 17 had been set for a June 19 launch aboard a European Ariane 5 rocket. Europe’s MSG-3 geostationary-orbiting meteorological satellite will be a co-passenger on the same rocket. (5/25)

Two-Site Solution: South Africa and Australia/New Zealand Awarded New Telescope (Source: Science)
The world's largest radiotelescope, the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), will be built in two places at once, planners announced today. SKA's partners decided to capitalize on investments already made at the two candidate sites—-in Australia/New Zealand and South Africa-—by having each site focus on different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The Australia/New Zealand array, with its focus in Murchison, Western Australia, will concentrate on low frequencies, below 500 megahertz (MHz). The South African array, centered in the Karoo desert in the Northern Cape, will observe in the middle and high frequencies above 500 MHz. "It keeps everyone on board and you don't fragment the community," says Albert Zijlstra. The two-site plan will modestly increase the cost of the €1.5 billion project, he notes, but says that is "a price worth paying." (5/25)

NASA’s Bold New Mission (Source: Daily Beast)
NASA officials think the government's investment will lead to new things, like new markets and economic growth. “If you look back at the airline industry, the first contracts were government airmail contracts that really started that industry,” Phil McAlister explained. And then over time you saw that shift to the private sector and so prices came down and seats became more available. We hope to see that same sort of transition into lower earth orbit in the next five or 10 years.” (5/25)

Protest by Harris CapRock Stalls FCSA Contract Awards (Source: Space News)
A multibillion-dollar U.S. government procurement of commercial satellite telecom solutions that has stretched out nearly two years faces additional delays following a protest by an incumbent contractor that was disqualified in April. Harris CapRock, a subsidiary of Florida-based Harris Corp., was bounced from the competition to provide end-to-end managed network services to U.S. defense and civilian agencies under the Future Comsatcom Services Acquisition (FCSA) program, according to multiple industry sources.

The company filed a protest May 7 with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), a move that effectively puts contract awards on hold. The disqualification is a serious blow to Harris CapRock, one of three companies that for the past decade have cobbled together satellite solutions for U.S. Defense Department customers under the Defense Satellite Transmission Services-Global program. That program, which is being replaced by FCSA, has been the Pentagon’s primary vehicle for procuring commercial satellite bandwidth and related services, with annual spending in the hundreds of millions of dollars. (5/25)

Next-Generation Ariane Tops Agenda for ESA Ministerial (Source: Space News)
It has been 25 years since European governments last made a major decision on the direction of the Ariane rocket system. This fall they may take the next step. Ministers from the 19-nation European Space Agency (ESA) are scheduled to meet in late November in Caserta, Italy, to set their budget and program priorities for the coming years. Every aspect of ESA’s work — including telecommunications, Earth observation, exploration and manned flight, navigation and meteorology — will be tackled, but how to proceed with Ariane may have the most long-term impact. (5/25)

Senate Panel Recommends More EnhancedView Funding (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee recommended adding $125 million to the president’s budget request for a program used to purchase commercial satellite imagery for defense and intelligence purposes. The committee approved the increase for the EnhancedView program May 24 in its markup of the 2013 National Defense Authorization bill. Total annual budgets for EnhancedView, administered by the U.S. National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, are classified. (5/25)

Former Ares-1 Chief: Commercial Space is Not a Policy (Source: SPACErePORT)
During the National Space Society's ISDC event in Washington, just moments after the successful Dragon-ISS link-up in space, former NASA Ares-1 program manager Steve Cook took time from his presentation on Stratolaunch (he's now working for Stratolaunch team member Dynetics) to comment on space policy. He called for unity in the space community, saying if we can't get behind each other, we circle the wagons and shoot inwards. In response to Cook's comments, Buzz Aldrin criticized the Constellation program that Cook helped lead at NASA, asking why a Shuttle replacement could not be completed in the seven years after its retirement was announced.

Echoing his former boss Mike Griffin (according to Jeff Foust), Cook said 'commercial space is not a policy, it is an acquisition strategy'. Actually it's both. The current policy is to rely on commercial acquisition for transport to/from the Space Station, instead of building the much more expensive--and redundant--Ares-1 vehicle that Cook was developing at Marshall Space Flight Center. The question I would most like answered is what is the cost difference between the sole-source Ares-1, and the commercially proposed Liberty launch system, which is very similar. I'm sure it is substantial. (5/25)

Commercial Space Race Gets Crowded Behind SpaceX (Source: Washington Times)
A privately built space capsule that’s zipping its way to the International Space Station has also launched something else: A new for-profit space race. SpaceX was hired by NASA to deliver cargo and eventually astronauts to the orbital outpost. And the space agency is hiring others, too. Several firms think they can make money in space and are close enough to Musk’s company to practically surf in his spaceship’s rocket-fueled wake. There are now more companies looking to make money in orbit--
at least eight--than major U.S. airlines still flying.

Private space companies have talked for years about ferrying goods and astronauts for NASA, but this is the first time one is actually in orbit and about to make a delivery for the space agency. The idea is to “let private industry do what it does best and let NASA tackle the challenging task of pushing the boundary further,” NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said last week. NASA has given seed money and contracts to several companies to push them on their way. But eventually, space missions could launch, dock to a private space station or hotel and return to Earth and not have anything to do with NASA or any other country’s space agency. (5/25)

Space Agency Leaders Say Global Cooperation Vital for Future Exploration (Source:
As more countries expand their spacefaring activities, and as budgets for doing so remain constrained, strong international cooperation and collaboration is imperative, according to space agency leaders from around the globe. Representatives from seven different space agencies, including the U.S., Canada, Japan, UK, Mexico, Netherlands, and Germany, spoke about the need for countries to work together in space.

"Here at home, we cooperate closely with not only other U.S. government agencies, but across the globe," said NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver. "Let there be no confusion, international collaboration is critical to America and NASA." Garver pointed to the International Space Station as the most visible example of international cooperation. The $100 billion orbiting outpost was built by 15 different countries, and is currently home to six crewmembers from the U.S., Russia and the Netherlands. (5/25)

DiBello Quoted on White House Website in Praise of SpaceX Mission (Source: White House)
Space Florida's Frank DiBello had this to say on the White House's collection of comments in praise of SpaceX's successful berthing at the International Space Station: “History requires special moments and today was one of them. As when the rails from east and west were joined to create the transcontinental railroad in 1869 and truly opened up the United States, so too did today’s linking of Dragon and the ISS symbolize the opening of space to the power and innovation of private commerce." Click here. (5/25)

ISS Captures Dragon Capsule in Orbit (Source: Flight Global)
An unmanned SpaceX Dragon capsule today linked with the International Space Station (ISS) in orbit over Australia, becoming the first private spacecraft to connect with the orbiting base. Astronaut Don Pettit captured the Dragon using the station's robotic arm at 09:56 EDT, or three days and six hours after the Dragon lifted off from Cape Canaveral en route to the ISS. "It looks like we've got a Dragon by the tail," Pettit said, speaking on NASA's mission control feed. The capture event was briefly delayed after the Dragon's LIDAR sensor locked on to the wrong component on the ISS. (5/25)

SpaceX Success Is Welcome News for Orbcomm (Source: Space News)
Few organizations were more relieved by SpaceX’s successful May 25 delivery of a cargo capsule to the international space station than mobile machine-to-machine (M2M) satellite services provider Orbcomm Inc. Orbcomm, which operates a fleet of 27 satellites in low Earth orbit, has been waiting for more than a year for SpaceX to deliver the first Dragon capsule to the station.

With that now accomplished, Orbcomm says, SpaceX is now able to focus on delivering Orbcomm’s 18 second-generation satellites into orbit. Orbcomm now expects that a prototype second-generation Orbcomm spacecraft will be aboard the next SpaceX-owned Falcon 9 rocket, tentatively scheduled to launch a Dragon capsule this summer. (5/25)

United Technologies: $9.8 Billion Bond Deal to Finance Goodrich Acquisition (Source: Dow Jones)
United Technologies has made what is the biggest U.S. corporate-debt offering in three years as part of its effort to buy Goodrich. United Technologies' $9.8 billion bond deal is being hailed by investors as a sign of economic confidence. The company is set to close this summer on its $16.5 billion purchase of Goodrich, a maker of aerospace parts. Editor's Note: Still no word on UT's sale of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, though I heard weeks ago that a deal had been struck to sell PWR to a private investment group. (5/25)

Pratt & Whitney Lays Off 300 (Source: Wal Street Journal)
United Technologies Corp.'s Pratt & Whitney aviation engine unit laid off 300 salaried employees Thursday as the company seeks to trim costs in the face of slumping spare-parts sales and rising development costs. (5/25)

White House Statement on Successful Dragon Link-Up (Source: White House)
For the first time, a private American company has successfully launched a spacecraft into orbit and berthed it with the International Space Station—-an achievement of historic scientific and technological significance and a key milepost in President Obama’s vision for America’s continued leadership in space.

That is exactly what the President had in mind when he laid out a fresh course for NASA to explore new scientific frontiers and take Americans ever deeper into our Solar System while relying on private-sector innovators—working in the competitive free market—to ferry astronauts and cargo to Low Earth Orbit and the International Space Station. It’s essential we maintain such competition and fully support this burgeoning and capable industry to get U.S. astronauts back on American launch vehicles as soon as possible.

I could not be prouder of our scientists and engineers—both government and private sector employees—who have contributed to this historic mission. A passion for discovery and a sense for adventure have always driven this Nation forward, and I join all Americans in watching what future possibilities are enabled by today’s great achievement. (5/25)

The Cross in Space - Jesus Did It! (Source: Christian Newswire)
A Cross made from the Cross carried Around the World on foot by Arthur Blessitt (319 nations, island groups and territories almost 40,000 miles) Is 'Now Orbiting The Earth'! The Cross went up on the SpaceX Falcon 9 Dragon Spacecraft. Celestis was the launch company. The Celestis canister with the Cross was carried as a secondary payload on the Falcon 9's second stage & is not on the Dragon. The cross in space is expected to remain in orbit for a year or more.

The Cross was carried Around the Earth on foot and Now the is Cross Flying Around this Earth over Washington DC, Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem, Asia, Australia etc. The cross is passing over you where ever you are. We wave the cross in space declaring "The Earth is the Lord's" We wave the cross in the face of Satan over all the earth proclaiming Good News in Jesus Christ for all people. (5/24)

Space Coast's Outlook Improved by SpaceX Launch (Source: Daytona Beach News Journal)
The blastoff of an unmanned private-sector rocket from Cape Canaveral to the Space Station was the beginning of a new era in space flight. Media commentators noted this was the beginning of a "dollar-driven" space race. That's true. It's a race that has long been developing and one that could help reinvigorate the Space Coast after the retirement of the space shuttle.

It isn't just government contracts and prestige these companies are chasing. It's also improved technology. With more experience in space, private companies such as SpaceX can one day carry out private missions -- such as "space tourism," or mining for gold and platinum on asteroids. The payoff could be so large that some speculate that the world's first trillionaires and first trillion-dollar companies will be created for space exploration and mining.

Much of that wealth and technology could be based in Brevard and Volusia counties, where NASA has so much infrastructure and human capital. Spaceflight is important, and manned spaceflight is also important -- but expensive. It is refreshing to see the U.S. private sector rise to the challenge. The world is changing, and along with it, our approach to space travel and exploration. But the Space Coast's role in exploring the universe is secure, in part, because of private companies. (5/25)

AIAA Launches Search for New Executive Director (Source:
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) announces the start of its search for a new executive director to replace Maj. Gen. Robert S. Dickman, U.S. Air Force (retired), who is retiring after eight years of service as executive director of AIAA. To aid in the search, AIAA has retained Korn/Ferry International, the world's largest executive search firm. The search is expected to be completed by October 2012.

AIAA President Michael Griffin said, "During Bob's tenure AIAA grew in strategic areas including corporate membership, international outreach, and an increased focus on the next generation of aerospace professionals, with membership in each of these areas increasing. He initiated transformative change efforts to grow the Institute's relevance and to expand AIAA's position into areas of nontraditional aerospace missions. We thank him for his outstanding leadership and wish him well in his retirement." (5/24)

One Return Ticket to Mars, Please (Source: Kuwait Times)
This week the US company, SpaceX, made history when it launched the first commercially owned spacecraft at an international space station. Whereas before, space travel was only attempted by governmental entities, SpaceX opened a new era of private space travel. Some are already predicting this to be the gateway to space travel being made available to individuals. Imagine that, taking a summer family vacation to space.

Forget destinations in Europe, South America or the Caribbean. For those that want to be exotic, space is the next destination. So would this mean that they are going to start construction of a five-star resort on the moon? Or a Disney-like amusement park on Mars? But there are so many aspects of space travel that need to be ironed out. What kind of clothes do you bring to space? Who knows the temperature in space? Do you bring your passport on board the space craft? Do you need a special space visa or do we all have to make a new ‘earth’ passport? (5/25)

Virginia Company Competes with Space X to Resupply Space Station (Source: WUSA)
SpaceX has taken the title of the first private company to launch a spacecraft to the International Space Station. But Orbital Sciences, based in Virginia, is only about six-months behind. Both SpaceX and Orbital Sciences were given the same mission from NASA: resupply the International Space Station. However, Orbital had less time and less funding to get the job done.

"We've essentially closed the gap with the SpaceX team," said Carl Walz, a former NASA astronaut and Orbital's Vice President for Human Space Flight Operations. The first test launch of the Antares rocket is slated for September at NASA's Wallops Facility in Virginia. If successful, their first launch to the space station will likely take place by the end of the year. It's one of the reasons Governor Bob McDonnell said back in February that, "Virginia is poised to become a leader in commercial space launch operations." (5/25)

Mars 'Has Life's Building Blocks' (Source: BBC)
New evidence from meteorites suggests that the basic building blocks of life are present on Mars. The study found that carbon present in 10 meteorites, spanning more than four billion years of Martian history, came from the planet and was not the result of contamination on Earth. Details of the work have been published in the journal Science. But the research also shows the Martian carbon did not come from life forms.

A team of scientists based at the Carnegie Institution for Science, based in Washington DC, found "reduced carbon" in the meteorites and says it was created by volcanic activity on Mars. Scientists are looking for clues as to how chemistry evolved to create a "common ancestor" of all life on earth Reduced carbon is carbon that is chemically bonded to hydrogen or itself. They argue this is evidence "that Mars has been undertaking organic chemistry for most of its history." (5/25)

Did Ancient Mars Have a Runaway Greenhouse? (Source: Astrobiology)
Cosmic impacts that once bombed Mars might have sent temperatures skyrocketing upward on the Red Planet in ancient times, enough to set warming of the surface on a runaway course, researchers say. According to scientists, these findings could potentially help explain how this cold, dry world might have once sustained liquid water, conditions potentially friendly for life.

The largest craters still visible on Mars were created about 3.7 billion to 4.1 billion years ago. For instance, the Argyre basin is thought to be 3.8 billion to 3.9 billion years old, a crater about 710 miles (1,140 kilometers) wide potentially generated by a comet or asteroid 60 to 120 miles (100 to 200 kilometers) in diameter.

The origin of these immense craters roughly coincides with when many branching Martian river valley networks apparently formed. The impact that created Argyre basin would have released an extraordinary amount of energy, far more than any bomb made by humanity, or even the meteor suspected of ending the Age of Dinosaurs — it would have been an explosion with an energy on the order of 10^26 joules, or 100 billion megatons of TNT. Altogether, scientists had calculated these giant collisions would have raised surface temperatures on Mars by hundreds of degrees. (5/25)

Organic Carbon From Mars, But Not Biological (Source: Carnegie Institution)
Molecules containing large chains of carbon and hydrogen--the building blocks of all life on Earth--have been the targets of missions to Mars from Viking to the present day. While these molecules have previously been found in meteorites from Mars, scientists have disagreed about how this organic carbon was formed and whether or not it came from Mars. A new paper provides strong evidence that this carbon did originate on Mars, although it is not biological. These findings give researchers insight into the chemical processes taking place on Mars and will help aid future quests for evidence of ancient or modern Martian life. (5/25)

Mystery Mars Formation May Be Ancient Volcanic Ash (Source:
One of the Red Planet's most mysterious landforms is probably 2 billion years older than has been thought, suggesting it may have had a volcanic origin, a new crater count finds. Scientists studying Mars have long been perplexed by the planet's Medusae Fossae Formation, a 620-mile-long (1,000-kilometer) deposit near the equator. Researchers aren't sure what the formation is made of, and their efforts to find out over the years have been stymied by a thick dust layer that covers all of Medusae. (5/25)

From Apollo to Orion: NASA's O & C Building Has New Mission (Source: America Space)
After undergoing a $55 million renovation, the Apollo-era Operation & Checkout (O & C) Building, located at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) industrial area, has been transformed into a state-of the-art green assembly multi-purpose-use facility. The renovations are part of a larger effort to not just prepare the space center for crewed deep-space missions, but to modernize many of the historic structures at KSC.

The O & C building’s design is replete with fixed structures that cannot be removed; this has proved to be a challenge to the refurbishment effort. The only remaining monument in the building is the explosion-proof pressure test room. With steel doors and four foot thick concrete walls – this room will be incorporated into Lockheed-Martin’s test plans. (5/25)

Don't Make SpaceX Leave California (Source: Orange County Register)
SpaceX has served notice to the world that the sky is no limit for California dreams. Safely locating a target traveling 18,000 miles per hour at an altitude of 250 miles requires a mastery of engineering that inspires awe.
However, while California enterprise has shown it can conquer the challenges of physics, a much more mundane set of laws has grounded our state's once-glorious aerospace industry and threatens our prosperity.

The Golden State is lucky to have SpaceX and a crop of new space start-ups. Nevertheless, it is revealing that the plucky spacecraft builder is growing inside a corner of an abandoned industrial complex in Hawthorne where thousands of Northrop workers once assembled fuselages for Boeing 747s. Not so long ago, nearly every American commercial and military aircraft was designed and built in California. Meanwhile, firms like Northrop-Grumman have airlifted hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs right out of California, and employees at the lingering Boeing facilities in Long Beach and Huntington Beach contemplate possible early retirement or relocation.

Can't anyone in Sacramento see this? After years of hearings and testimonies they've enacted no salient reform or serious manufacturing-friendly legislation. Aerospace is not alone among industries in this frustration; California is often ranked 50th of 50 states in business friendliness. How did we end up at the bottom? Click here. (5/25)

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