May 4, 2012

Nano-Satellite Launch Challenge Rules Posted for Review (Source: Space Florida)
The draft Rules and Team Agreement for the Challenge are available for review and comment. For the next month, we are allowing interested persons and potential competitors to review the draft rules and Team Agreement and submit comments. We are also encouraging potential competitors to register to receive weekly updates on the status of the competition. Please use the form below to register and/or submit your comments or questions. In the future, we will set up another hyperlink which will contain the answers to questions submitted. Click here. (5/4)

Hawaii Lawmakers Approve Funds for Spaceport Application (Source: Flight Global)
Hawaii is one step closer to having a spaceport after the state legislature approved funding for the relevant applications to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The state, heavily dependent on tourism, hopes to stimulate a new form of tourism to the islands. "The legislature recognizes that expanding the State's tourism product by developing new niche products, such as space tourism, can enhance Hawaii's appeal as a tourist destination," says SB112, the bill authorizing funding. (5/4)

Signs of Ancient Flowing Water on Mars (Source: ESA)
ESA’s Mars Express has returned images of a region on the Red Planet that appears to have been sculpted in part by flowing liquid. This again adds to the growing evidence that Mars had large volumes of water on its surface in the distant past. On 21 June last year, Mars Express pointed its high-resolution stereo camera at the western part of Acidalia Planitia, a gigantic basin in the planet’s northern lowlands, at the interface with Tempe Terra, an older, higher terrain. (5/4)

SpaceX Looking at May 19 or May 22 for Launch (Source: Space Policy Online)
SpaceX is targeting May 19, with May 22 as a backup date, for the delayed launch of its next demonstration flight as part of the commercial cargo program. The launch has been delayed a number of times. In an emailed announcement this afternoon, SpaceX spokeswoman Kirsten Brost Grantham said:

"SpaceX and NASA are nearing completion of the software assurance process, and SpaceX is submitting a request to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for a May 19th launch target with a backup on May 22nd. Thus far, no issues have been uncovered during this process, but with a mission of this complexity we want to be extremely diligent." (5/4)

Federal Affairs Workshop in Washington DC for Florida Defense Contractors (Source: FFCA)
The Florida Federal Contractors Association (FFCA) has scheduled its third Washington D.C. Federal Affairs Workshop and Networking Reception. This is a not to miss full-day event. Registration is open for current FFCA members. Non-members may register based on availability as of June 1st. The trip can be done in one day. Click here. (5/4)

NASA Picks Boeing For Interim SLS Engine (Source: Aviation Week)
NASA will contract with Boeing for an interim cryogenic propulsion stage to power at least the first two flights of its planned heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS), based on the company’s Delta Cryogenic Second Stage used on the Delta IV. After reviewing other upper stages, the U.S. space agency picked the Delta unit because it meets most of the requirements for lofting Orion multipurpose crew vehicles in 2017 and 2021 atop a NASA-developed SLS main stage with strap-on boosters.

The two requirements it doesn’t meet – human rating and the ability to achieve a velocity change (delta v) of 3,050 meters/sec. with three engine burns – can be fulfilled with “relatively minor modifications,” NASA says in a notification of the selection posted on the agency’s procurement website by Marshall Space Flight Center. (5/4)

Affordability, Not Geographic Return, Key Criteria for Europe’s Next Rocket (Source: Space News)
The European Space Agency (ESA) will select two competing proposals by late June to design a next-generation rocket that, if accepted by European governments in November, could succeed the current Ariane 5 heavy-lift vehicle within 15 years, ESA officials said. The 19-nation agency is taking a new approach to launcher design by asking industry from the start to design a cost-effective rocket that would appeal to owners of satellites, both commercial and governmental, without regard for where the vehicle’s contractors are located. (5/4)

Atlas-5 Launches Second AEHF Satellite From Florida (Source: Space News)
A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket carrying the second Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) secure communications satellite for the U.S. Air Force lifted off at 2:42 p.m. EDT May 4 from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The AEHF-2 satellite successfully separated from its launcher about 51 minutes into the flight. The 6,170-kilogram spacecraft will undergo 110 days of orbit-raising operations followed by 120 days of on-orbit testing. (5/4)

Sierra Nevada Corp. Explores Florida-Based Operations (Source: SNC)
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Space Systems announced interest in Florida as a possible location for commercial human spaceflight programs and facilities. SNC’s winged orbital crew vehicle, the Dream Chaser, is in development with plans to launch on the United Launch Alliance Atlas V vehicle from Launch Complex-41 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. In addition to launch operations, SNC is interested in exploring landing, vehicle processing and other capabilities within the state. Space Florida and State and Local Officials met with SNC leadership today to discuss the potential for basing expanded Commercial Crew operations in Florida.

SNC Space Systems, a Colorado-based designer and manufacturer of advanced spacecraft, space vehicles and spacecraft subsystems and components for commercial and government customers, was awarded two funded Space Act Agreements as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Development Program in 2009 and 2011. SNC is considering a number of U.S. locations for its expanding commercial crew operations and currently awaits details of possible State incentive packages to determine if Florida will be the selected location for future commercial space facilities. (5/4)

Shuttle Director to Appear at Cape Museum (Source: SpaceKSC)
Long-time Space Shuttle launch director Mike Leinbach will be the guest speaker Monday May 7 at the monthly docents meeting of the Air Force Space & Missile Museum. As reported by, Mr. Leinbach joined United Launch Alliance last year as the company's Director of Human Spaceflight Operations. Mr. Leinbach will be talking about ULA's involvement in NASA's commercial crew program.

The meeting is for museum docents but members of the public are permitted to attend. The meeting begins on Monday at 7 PM. It's at the museum's History Center located outside Gate 1 of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, next to the SpaceX Launch Control Center. Click here for more information about the History Center, including directions. (5/4)

Pratt & Whitney: Revenues Will Surge After "Transition" Years (Source: AOL Defense)
If Pratt & Whitney can get through what officials call a "transition period" between old-style engines and new technology, the company says it's poised to double revenues from $12 billion in 2010 to $24 billion in 2020. "We are in a little bit of a transition period ... going from legacy engines to new engines," Pratt & Whitney President David Hess said. The projected revenue growth also depends on how successful the F-35 program is. (5/4)

GE Avaiation Expands in South Florida's Pompano Beach (Source: South Florida Business Journal)
GE Aviation has announced its move to a new, larger facility in Pompano Beach. The 30,000-square-foot space includes a new lab that will provide increased capacity for developing, testing and manufacturing advanced electrical power conversion products used on civil and military platforms. “GE is committed to Florida and is investing approximately $20 million in program work and [research and development] related to our Pompano Beach facility over the next five years,” said Vic Bonneau, president of electrical power for GE Aviation Systems. (5/3)

City Backs SpaceX Proposal (Source: Brownsville Herald)
The City Commission has thrown in its support for SpaceX coming to Brownsville by passing a resolution in support of the $3 billion company. "It’s a win-win situation for everyone," Mayor Tony Martinez said. He is encouraging city commissioners to talk to their constituents and rally support for SpaceX. Should the company decide to come to Brownsville, it could mean hundreds of jobs to the city. Brownsville, or rural Cameron County, is one of three sites that SpaceX has under consideration for a launch site. The others are in Florida and Puerto Rico. (5/4)

SpaceX Boldly Looks to Blast 'Millions of People to Mars' (Source: PBS)
With the shuttle era over, American spaceflight is on the verge of going private for the immediate future. This week, the company behind the so-called SpaceX project announced another delay in its planned launch of a commercial cargo capsule. Liftoff was tentatively scheduled for this coming Monday, and the project is months behind its original schedule. But its creator and engineers remain undaunted about their plans and their ambitions. NewsHour science correspondent Miles O'Brien has our report. Click here. (5/4)
Faulty Handset Antenna Prompts Iridium Recall (Source: Space News)
Mobile satellite services provider Iridium Communications on May 3 said it is recalling its new Iridium Extreme telephone handsets because of a faulty antenna but that the problem will have no lasting effect on revenue or subscriptions. Iridium Chief Executive Matthew J. Desch said all the affected customers’ phones will be repaired or replaced by June. Iridium declined to say how many phones are being recalled. (5/4)

Aerojet Engine Tests Completed for Antares Rocket (Source: Aerojet)
Aerojet's AJ26 engine successfully completed a hot-fire test yesterday at NASA's Stennis Space Center. Orbital Sciences Corporation (Orbital), Aerojet and NASA monitored the full-duration test in support of the Antares rocket program. This is the eighth AJ26 engine to be tested at Stennis. "This test demonstrates our 70-year legacy of propulsion performance," said Executive Director of Space and Launch Systems, Pete Cova. Following review of the test data, the AJ26 will be shipped to Wallops Flight Facility for integration with Orbital's Antares rocket. (5/4)

GeoEye Offers $792 Million to Acquire Rival DigitalGlobe (Source: Bloomberg)
GeoEye Inc. has offered to buy DigitalGlobe Inc. (DGI) for about $792 million, to create the world’s largest commercial-imagery satellite company and help cope with U.S. defense budget cuts. The $17-a-share proposal consists of $8.50 in cash and 0.3537 share of GeoEye for each DigitalGlobe share, Herndon, Virginia-based GeoEye said today in a statement, calling the offer “friendly.”

That’s 26 percent higher than DigitalGlobe’s closing price yesterday. A combination would enable the companies to cut costs and better manage reductions in spending on intelligence agencies by governments, the biggest clients for GeoEye and DigitalGlobe. PresidentBarack Obama’s administration asked Congress for $71.8 billion for such agencies next year, according to the Defense Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. That would be about $6.8 billion less than funding in 2011. (5/4)

Quasars Shine New Light on Cosmic Distances (Source: Physics World)
An international team of scientists has developed a method to determine the distances to quasars throughout the universe. This could allow quasars to be used as standard candles. The researchers found characteristic patterns in the light given off by a group of quasars and say that these regularities are directly related to the redshift of the quasar. This allows them to reliably derive the unknown redshift – how fast objects are moving away from one another in the expanding universe – of one quasar from the known redshift of another. (5/4)

ULA Urges IAM Members to Vote in Favor of New Contract (Source: ULA)
United Launch Alliance (ULA) has urged its employees represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) to vote this Sunday, May 6, in favor of a new three-year contract. The proposed contract would cover represented employees located at ULA's production operations in Decatur, Ala., and at ULA's launch operations at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport and Vandenberg Air Force Base. On May 2, ULA presented its final offer to the IAM. The IAM's negotiating committee has recommended that its members reject ULA's proposed contract and vote to authorize the IAM leadership to call a strike. (5/4)

New War for Space is a Public-Private One (Source: INDRUS)
As corporations work to create vehicles to carry cargo and people into space, the Russian space program must assess its own future plans. At first glance, Russia has the most to lose from the new development. Since the decommissioning of the space shuttle system, the country has had a monopoly on the delivery of both people and cargo to the station. However, the Russian Federal Space Agency has raised no objections to the launch of the Dragon to the ISS. In fact, the ship may benefit the Russian Federal Space Agency.

Dragon's claimed specifications command respect. It can carry six tons of cargo at a launch cost of around $100 million, which is a third the cost of sending a similar load on the Progress. Additionally, the challenge from Dragon has sped up plans for the Russian Prospective Piloted Transport System (PPTS). And since the Russian ship is still in the development stage, it can learn from the mistakes of the Dragon.

Thus, in the foreseeable future the Russian aerospace industry is tasked with creating a ship that can compete with Dragon, and not only in the terms of the cost of the launch, but also for all other parameters, such as future lunar or martian missions. Dragon's flights to the ISS may serve as an important stimulus in this case. (5/3)

Federal Charges Possible in Saturn V Shooting (Source: Huntsville Times)
The person who fired three shots into the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center this morning could possibly face federal charges because two bullets struck and damaged the Saturn V rocket on display inside the building. The Smithsonian owns the Saturn V rocket that was struck by bullets in the rocket's third stage just below the command module and near the bottom of the third stage. Huntsville police are treating the shooting as a local case but could call in federal authorities to determine if any federal charges apply. (5/3)

ULA Union Workers Considering Strike Over Dismal Contract Negotiations (Source: WHNT)
The workers who build Atlas and Delta rockets are considering launching a strike against ULA company over a new three-year contract. A group of ULA employees gathered outside the plant in decatur to blast off about failing negotiations with company officials over a new three-year-contract.

“The company’s wanting to freeze the new hires out on the retirement plan which means the future employees, once they come in, they’ll have no retirement,” said Phillip Carr, the chairman of the union’s negotiating committee. Add to that, higher medical costs and new language the union doesn’t agree with and union representatives are fed up with what they see as a lack of bargaining by company officials over the last three weeks of meetings.

The contract affects about 450 employees in Decatur and another 400 at the company’s sites in California and Florida. Those employees are set to meet on Sunday to vote on the company’s final offer. If they vote it down, the next vote they’ll take will be whether or not to strike, which is something they say they don’t want to do. (5/3)

Feds Inspect 52-Year-Old Bridge to Wallops Spaceport After "Popping Sounds" (Source:
Federal Highway Administration engineers were called in Thursday morning to inspect the bridge to Wallops Island after “popping sounds” were heard at the bridge on Wednesday, according to NASA Wallops Flight Facility spokesman Keith Kohler. The hump-backed bridge dates to 1960 and crosses Cat’s Creek, connecting the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s launchpads and other facilities on Wallops Island to the mainland Eastern Shore of Virginia.

Limitations were placed on traffic over the bridge as a precaution, Kohler said. Replacement of the bridge is among items listed as under consideration in an environmental review process currently underway for Wallops Flight Facility. NASA officials are expected to receive a briefing on the inspection results late Thursday afternoon. (5/3)

House Pares NASA's 2013 Spending Back to 1959 Levels, May Force Europa Mission (Source: Ars Technica)
The Appropriations Committee of the US House of Representatives has set May 8 as the date they will begin debating an election year budget that pares NASA back to its lowest level as a percentage of the Federal budget since 1959, surpassing last year's record low of 0.48%. In absolute terms, it will roughly match the 2006 Bush levels, cutting money from the Space Technology and Commercial Crew program requests for a third year, while adding funds to the Space Launch System and the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, two Congressional favorites.

The House budget, which drops NASA $226M to $19.57B, contrasts with the Senate budget, which also cuts money from the $830M Commercial Crew budget request but decreases NASA's budget somewhat less in absolute terms (effectively a $41.5M cut). The House also conflicts with the Senate in oversight of the Commercial Crew program, in that the House attempts to direct NASA to narrow the current field of four manned spacecraft to a single "competitor." Click here. (5/3)

Military and NASA Cuts Dent ATK Profit (Source: Star Tribune)
Alliant Techsystems is continuing to adjust to a future with less NASA and military-related business, while taking steps to shore up profits from products it sells to non-military customers. The defense and aerospace company reported lower earnings for its fourth quarter and fiscal year, citing reduced NASA-related and advanced weapon sales, a shift by consumers to less expensive products and higher raw material costs. Fourth-quarter profit was $61.4 million, compared with $71.1 million in the prior-year quarter. Analysts had estimated sales of $1.26 billion. (5/3)

Hacking Group Hits NASA, Air Force, ESA (Source:
A new hacking group calling itself "The Unknowns" has published a list of passwords and documents reportedly belonging to NASA, the European Space Agency and the U.S. Air Force, among other high-profile government targets. The group's Pastebin post, released yesterday (May 1), includes names and passwords reportedly belonging to NASA's Glenn Research Center as well as the U.S. Military's Joint Pathology Center, the Thai Royal Navy, Harvard University, Renault, the Jordanian Yellow Pages and the Ministries of Defense of France and Bahrain. (5/3)

Lockheed Martin Wins Contract to Run DOD Cyber Crime Center (Source: Reuters)
Lockheed Martin Corp on Thursday said it had won a contract worth up to $454 million to support the Pentagon's Cyber Crime Center, a government facility that investigates the growing number of attacks on U.S. government networks. Lockheed beat out General Dynamics Corp, which previously ran the center, to win the contract in January, but the award was held up by a protest filed with the General Accountability Office. General Dynamics had protested the contract award but dropped its protest after securing a subcontract with Lockheed, according to a source familiar with the decision. (5/4)

US Antimissile Complexes Can Be Used as Antispace Weapons (Source: Itar-Tass)
United Sates land and sea-based antimissile complexes can be used as antispace weapons, Lieutenant-General Oleg Ostapenko, the commander of the aerospace defense forces, said on Thursday. “Emplacement of missile defense complexes with antispace potential will make it possible to intercept spacecraft on any orbit,” he told the international conference on missile defense issues, held in Moscow. (5/3)

Russian Mission Control to Correct ISS Orbit (Source: Itar-Tass)
Russia's Mission Control Center (MCC) will make another adjustment of the ISS orbit to prepare it for the docking with a Soyuz manned spacecraft. The first correction was made on April 25. “This operation is made to ensure optimal conditions for rapprochement and docking with the ISS of the Soyuz TMA-04M manned spacecraft, the launch of which is scheduled for May 15,” MCC sources said. The main propulsion force will be the engines of the third European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) cargo spacecraft that was docked to the Russian Service Module Zvezda in late March. The engines of the Zvezda module and the Russian cargo spacecraft Progress M-15M will ensure the space station’s orientation. (5/3)

NASA Pursues Wearable Technology (Source: Aerospace Daily)
Spaceflight brings a whole new meaning to dressing for success. An astronaut’s garments must be functional, yet as comfortable as possible, whether the flier is sealed inside a spacecraft or on a spacewalk. As NASA envisions a future of deep-space exploration and missions stretching from months to years, the list of wardrobe requirements soars as well.

Mass, volume, durability, ease of care, even resistance to bacteria and recyclability compete with greater demands for functionality. So much so that a small team of Advanced Exploration Systems engineers from NASA’s Johnson Space Center has turned to experts from the University of Minnesota’s College of Design for help in navigating the emerging fields of functional clothing and wearable technology. (5/3)

Next Galileo Satellites Launch After the Summer (Source: ESA)
The European Commission has announced the launch date of the next pair of ESA-procured Galileo satellites. These will be launched together on a Soyuz from French Guiana on 28 September, joining the two satellites already in orbit. (5/3)

Nuclear Space Exploration. Is Russia First? (Source: INDRUS)
USA, Russia, China and India share the same ambitious in space exploration. But the position of trendsetter is still unengaged. The international space market experts and scientists admit that the Finance Ministry’s restraints disable Roscosmos from conquering the overseas markets, a fact which China uses to its own advantage. China set the target to win the aeronautics-based information markets of Asia and Latin America and successfully acquire it, even if to the detriment of its domestic economy.

The Chinese experience proves that in order to develop high space technologies, one has sometimes to sacrifice the immediate economic gain. Incidentally, the intermediate result is that China shares the second position in aeronautics development with Russia, but has already drawn near to the leader – the USA.

Yet experts realize that placing high technologies in near-Earth space under the current level of energy outfit is like trying to warm the Galaxy with a candle and Mars flights now appear an utter absurdity. To reach the red planet, a spacecraft with a MV-grade nuclear plant is needed, which calls for huge financial injections. (5/3)

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