May 3, 2012

Space Coast Students Get Cubesat Lift From Lockheed Martin (Source: Lockheed Martin)
Lockheed Martin Engineers Mentor Florida High School Students for Cubesat Launch (Source: Lockheed Martin)
Employees from Lockheed Martin visited with approximately 50 students enrolled in Merritt Island High School’s (MIHS) da Vinci Academy of Aerospace Technology and CubeSat program on May 1. Mark Calassa, vice president and program manager of the AEHF program, along with several AEHF employees, discussed the upcoming launch of the U.S. Air Force’s second Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) military communications satellite and the CubeSat program’s nano-satellite project.

The students’ nano-satellite will be integrated with the United Launch Alliance Atlas 531 rocket that will launch Lockheed Martin’s second AEHF satellite into orbit May 4. It will communicate with a California Polytechnic State University satellite to assist commercial companies with the balance needed to protect against launch vibrations and additional costs resulting from over-design. To help the students review their project and to discuss real-life engineering comparisons, the CubeSat program students presented their projects to Lockheed Martin engineers and held open discussions on lessons learned, technology challenges and project requirements. (5/3)

Atlas-5 Launch Delayed to Friday for Technical Fix (Source:
Today's launch of the Atlas 5 rocket with the Air Force's AEHF 2 secure communications satellite has been scrubbed due to the purge problem. In the end, officials decided against sending a crew into the launch platform, beneath the million-pound rocket, to check a manually-operated valve in the purge system that feeds the Centaur interstage adapter. The United Launch Alliance and Air Force launch team plans will try again Friday at 2:42 p.m. EDT. (5/3)

Spaceport and Lunar Park Bills Up for Vote in Hawaii (Source: Hawaii News Now)
Hawaii lawmakers are expected to pass two bills on Thursday that would bring the state closer to space tourism and even developing the moon. Imagine this runway out here in Kalaeloa as a spaceport capable of taking tourists to outer space. Some lawmakers say that possibility is closer than ever before. The sky is not the limit for space tourism but money is. In the past the idea had support but the funds haven't been released.

"It looks like this is going to be the year for the aerospace industry and in particular space tourism," said State Senator Will Espero, (D) Ewa Beach, who introduced the bill. First Hawaii needs a spaceport license from the FAA. Ten states already have or are applying for one. The state needs to front $250,000 and hopes the federal government matches that amount. The application deadline is May 11. State Senator Espero says Hawaii can easily recoup the money from interested companies especially since space tourism is projected to be a billion industry in ten years.

Another bill expected to pass would build an International Lunar Research Park on the Big Island. The facility would help create robots designed to develop a colony on the moon and have the first human settlement on the moon within 10 years. To get that going the state would invest half a million from the budget and float another $1.8 million in bonds in order to float the moon development. (5/4)

FAA Progress Report Tracks NextGen Goals (Source: AIN)
The Federal Aviation Administration released a progress report on NextGen implementation. According to the report, released in March, more than 300 ADS-B ground stations were installed by the end of 2011. Performance-based navigation also continues to expand, and 49 new GPS Rnav routes were established in 2011. (5/3)

Saturn V Rocket Shot in Alabama (Source: Huntsville Times)
Someone fired three shots into the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center at about 10 a.m., but no one was injured, space center officials said. The shots, which appear to have come from somewhere along Interstate 565, police said, put a hole in the Saturn V rocket on display inside and broke three windows. (5/3)

Antares Likely to Launch in August at Wallops Island Spaceport (Source:
The first flight of the Antares rocket will likely be in August, according to an Orbital Sciences Corporation official. Orbital Sciences Corporation Chief Executive Officer David W. Thompson in a conference call with investors updated the schedule for several milestones related to the Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft which will be launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in commercial missions to take cargo to the International Space Station.

The company on April 19 wrapped up 10 days of transportation runs of the rocket's first stage to and from the launch pad from a building further north on Wallops Island. Those operations included tests of mechanical and electrical interfaces between the rocket and the launch pad as well as of the hydraulic systems that rotate the rocket from a horizontal to vertical position. (5/3)

Gingrich Ends Campaign, But Not His Interest in Space (Source: Space Politics)
On Wednesday, a little over three months after he briefly, if somewhat bizarrely, catapulted space policy to the front lines of the Republican presidential campaign, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich formally suspended his campaign for the White House. In a speech lasting over 20 minutes in a Washington, DC-area hotel, Gingrich suggested he is still interested, and may in some way still be involved, in shaping the space policy debate.

“I am cheerfully going to take back up the issue of space,” he said about 15 minutes into the speech, a line that appeared to generate a few laughs in the room. “My wife has pointed out to me approximately 219 times, give or take three, that ‘moon colony’ was probably not my most clever comment in this campaign. I thought, frankly, in my role as providing material for Saturday Night Live that it was helpful, but the underlying key point is real. The fact is, if we’re going to be the leading country in the world, we have to be the leading country in space. The fact is, our bureaucratic red-tape-ridden system doesn’t work.” (5/3)

Mini-Shuttle Maker Looks at Space Coast (Source: Florida Today)
The Dream Chaser is one of four commercial space taxis — and the only winged vehicle — being developed with NASA support, all of which plan to launch from Florida. NASA hopes at least one commercial system will be ready to fly crews to the International Space Station by 2017. The space agency plans to award its next round of development funding this summer, potentially trimming the field to just one or two finalists.

The scope of Sierra Nevada’s local interest likely is dependent on whether it continues to receive funding under NASA's commercial crew program, and on state incentives that are still being negotiated. Among NASA’s other funded commercial crew partners, SpaceX already has a Cape Canaveral launch complex, and The Boeing Co. last fall announced plans to assemble its crew capsule in a former shuttle hangar at KSC, work that could create 550 jobs. (5/3)

Boeing Completes Full Landing Test of Crew Space Capsule (Source: SpaceRef)
Boeing successfully completed the second parachute drop test of the company's Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft on May 2 at the Delamar Dry Lake Bed near Alamo, Nev. The test demonstrated the performance of the entire landing system. An Erickson Air Crane helicopter lifted the CST-100 test article to about 14,000 feet and initiated a drogue parachute deployment sequence that was followed by deployment of the main parachute. The capsule descended to a smooth ground landing, cushioned by six inflated air bags. (5/3)

Moon Express Setting Sights on Extracting Lunar Platinum (Source: Space News)
In recent months, Moon Express held a series of workshops to determine whether asteroid bombardment left platinum group metals on the lunar surface and, if so, how feasible it would be to obtain those materials for use on Earth or in future space operations. Those workshops identified "localized hotspots" where the Moon Expres team should focus its initial mining operations. (5/2)

Sirius XM Gains on Car Sales (Source: New York Times)
Sirius XM Radio on Tuesday reported strong results for its first quarter, with increased revenue and subscription numbers helped by improved car sales. Sirius reported $805 million in revenue for the first three months of 2012, up 11 percent over the same period the year before, and $108 million in earnings, or 2 cents a share. The company added 405,000 subscribers in the quarter, reaching a high of 22.3 million. Sirius said it now expected to gain 1.5 million subscribers for the year, up from its earlier estimate of 1.3 million. (5/3)

Mike Leinbach: Lasting Space Policy Needed (Source: Florida Today)
I could go into lengthy detail as to how we found ourselves in the mess we’re in — the inability to launch American astronauts on American rockets for years to come. But this isn’t the place for explaining who shot John. Rather, it’s an opportunity to offer a way to avoid future dead Johns. How did we get here? Simple. Changing directions from Washington, D.C. Changes in administrations and congresses, all with seemingly insatiable appetites to establish their own plans for NASA.

How can we get ourselves out of this mess? Simple to say; difficult, if not impossible, to do. We need to establish an enduring national space policy that transcends political influences, decades and hopefully even generations. Several of NASA’s greatest accomplishments prove this to be possible, including the moon landing and the shuttle and space station programs.

How do we get to such a policy? Again, easy to say, difficult to do. Establish an international commission to define the policy. It must be one with true vision, not one based on stunts. Then, with the administration’s and congressional backing, sign it into law. Do not just recommend such a policy, make it American law, changeable for only the most extreme reasons, and then fund it appropriately. (5/3)

The Suborbital Applications Researchers Group Forms the Ambassador Program (Source: CSF)
The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s Suborbital Applications Researchers Group (SARG) announced today the formation of the SARG Ambassadors Program, and opened enrollment. The SARG Ambassadors Program allows interested scientists and educators around the nation to help spread the word about the uses of next-gen commercial reusable suborbital vehicles for research and education.

SARG is an advisory committee composed of experienced scientists, researchers and educators dedicated to furthering the research and education potential of commercial suborbital launch vehicles. SARG’s goals include increasing awareness of commercial suborbital flights among scientists and educators and working with policymakers to ensure that payloads will have access to a new generation of research and education tools.

SARG is now recruiting Ambassadors to help achieve these goals by communicating the broad benefits of suborbital spaceflight through public appearances and talks. SARG Ambassadors will be connected with opportunities to communicate in their respective surrounding areas and will be encouraged to reach out to local policy makers and government agencies with their important message. (5/3)

Australia to Miss Out as Billionaires Shoot for the Stars (Source: Canberra Times)
Australia is cashing in on the resources boom on Earth but it's lagging behind in the race to the new mineral frontier ... space. That's the view of Duncan Steel of the Australian Centre for Astrobiology at the University of New South Wales after Google's Eric E. Schmidt, Larry Page and Sergey Brin last week announced plans for company Planetary Resources to mine asteroids for precious metals.

"If science really is Australia's future – as CSIRO says it is – the country doesn't have a hope," said Steel. Steel was involved in the first southern-hemisphere search for near-Earth asteroids back in 1989, when Australia was well-positioned in the field. But in 1996 the federal government cut all funding to asteroid research, later declaring it to be "a fruitless, unnecessary, self-indulgent exercise". "We were the second-leading nation in the world 20 years ago, and now 20 or 30 nations have whizzed past us," he said. (5/3)

Virgin’s ‘Spaceline’ Sees Big Market in South Africa (Source: Business Day)
Tourism firm Virgin Galactic says two South Africans have spent $200000 each to get tickets for the first commercial trips to space. Only two South Africans have booked seats for the first commercial trips to space, Virgin Galactic said yesterday. Despite the $200,000 cost of a ticket for a chance to see the earth from space, the company believes SA offers a strong market for space tourists.

Billionaire Mark Shuttleworth spent more than $20m more than a decade ago to become the first African in space. "I am delighted that we are now making it easier for South Africans to book their seat on Virgin Galactic and join other new astronauts on an incredible journey into outer space," Sir Richard said. A scientist from SA, whom Mr Attenborough declined to name, was already working with the company, he said. There is also the possibility that Virgin’s scholarship program for mathematics and science study may spread to SA and other countries, he said. (5/3)

Still Waiting to Catch the Gravitational Wave (Source: BBC)
After ESA picked the JUICE as Europe's next big space research mission, it seems the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) is everyone's second favorite space mission. Time and again over the past few years I've been told "if my mission isn't selected, I hope LISA wins". LISA got through to the final run-off in ESA's competition, and then, like JUICE and Athena, was forced to modify its architecture to reduce costs when the Americans withdraw their co-operation in April 2011. So why did it lose out? Click here. (5/3)

Software Studies Delay SpaceX Launch Again (Source: Florida Today)
Ongoing analysis of spacecraft software systems will delay by at least several days SpaceX’s launch of a Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule from Cape Canaveral to the International Space Station. Company spokeswoman Kirstin Grantham said Wednesday that a planned Monday morning launch “appears unlikely,” and a new date was not yet confirmed. “SpaceX is continuing to work through the software assurance process with NASA,” Grantham said. The next possible attempt is next Thursday. After that, the demonstration mission would have to wait until at least May 19, after the launch and arrival of a new three-person crew at the space station. (5/3)

Rocket Routine Never Gets Old for 2nd Generation Spaceport Worker (Source: Florida Today)
Herb Vitt fully expects an adrenaline rush today as countdown clocks tick toward the planned launch of an Atlas V rocket and a $1.7 billion military communications satellite. The thrill still will be there. He’ll be in the Atlas Launch Control Center at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, busy watching over rocket systems, making certain the vehicle is fully prepared to blast off at 2:46 p.m. And in some ways, the launch will bridge an association with Atlas rockets that stretches back to Feb. 20, 1962, the date U.S. astronaut John Glenn flew into the history books as the first American to orbit the Earth. (5/3)

Weather Eyes in the Sky Growing Dim (Source: Florida Today)
Predicting the weather is tricky enough. Now a new government-sponsored report warns that America's ability to track tornadoes, forecast hurricanes and study climate change is about to diminish. The capability of weather satellites circling the planet "is beginning a rapid decline" and tight budgets have significantly delayed or eliminated missions to replace them, according to a National Research Council analysis released Wednesday. (5/2)

United Technologies Focused on One Buyer for Rocketdyne (Source: Reuters)
United Technologies' talks to sell its Rocketdyne space unit are now focused on one possible buyer. The diversified U.S. manufacturer in March put Rocketdyne up for sale as part of an effort to avoid selling new common shares to fund its largest-ever acquisition, the $16.5 billion pending takeover of aerospace components maker Goodrich Corp. "We've had a number of interested bidders and right now we're focusing our discussions on one of them," Pratt & Whitney Chief Executive David Hess said in an interview on Wednesday. (5/2)

Plantation High School Teams to Compete in Rocketry Finals (Source: TARC)
Five teams from Plantation High School are finalists in the 2012 Team America Rocketry Challenge. TARC is the world's largest rocket contest, sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and the National Association of Rocketry (NAR). The top 100 teams, based on local qualification flights, are invited to Washington, DC on May 12 for the national finals. Prizes include $60,000 in cash and scholarships split between the top 10 finishers. (5/3)

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