July 9, 2012

NASA's Past Considers its Future (Source: Space Review)
A Congressionally-mandated committee is studying NASA's strategic direction, and inviting both the current and previous leadership of the agency to offer their perspectives. Jeff Foust reports on what these people think about the agency's direction, budget, and structure at this critical time for NASA. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2116/1 to view the article. (7/9)

A Mighty Roar (Source: Space Review)
First impressions, be they of people or museums, can be misleading. Dwayne Day takes a second look at a space museum in Alabama and comes away more impressed than the first time around. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2115/1 to view the article. (7/9)

Commercial Crew Providers Aplenty (Source: Space Review)
SpaceX, riding high on the success of its recent cargo demonstration flight to the International Space Station, is a leading contender in NASA's next round of commercial crew development awards. However, as Anthony Young reports, it's not the only company competing, contrasting it with a another firm with a very different technical and business approach. Visit
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2114/1 to view the article. (7/9)

Aerojet Names Goldman as its Southeast Space Operations Lead (Source: SpaceRef)
Gene Goldman will join Aerojet to lead the company's Southeast Space Operations. Goldman has been the acting center director at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Ala. since March 2012, when Robert Lightfoot began his assignment at NASA Headquarters. Previously, Goldman served as MSFC's deputy director and as the center director at NASA's Stennis Space Center. Goldman began his career with NASA supporting the Space Shuttle Main Engine project at MSFC in various capacities. (7/9)

Florida Governor Meets with British Prime Minister at Farnborough (Source: Gov. Scott)
British Prime Minister David Cameron and Florida Governor Rick Scott met at the Farnborough Air Show in the United Kingdom. They discussed the importance of the aerospace sector to the global and UK/Florida economies and their efforts to implement policies that create aerospace sector jobs in the UK and Florida.

“The UK and Florida have significant trade and investment links as the world’s seventh and 20th largest economies, respectively. The UK is Florida’s largest foreign direct investor employing over 39,100 Floridians, and Florida is the largest long-haul destination for UK nationals with 1.3 million UK tourists visiting Florida every year,” Governor Scott said. Editor's Note: Space Florida chief Frank DiBello is part of the Florida delegation at Farnborough. The state has sponsored a multi-company 'Florida Pavilion' at the bi-annual event. (7/9)

AIA: Uncertainty is Stalling Aerospace Hiring and Investment (Source: Reuters)
Defense-cut uncertainty means layoff notices are looming at aerospace and defense firms and investment is on hold, say industry leaders. "No one wants to hire. No one feels there's enough certainty to make significant capital investments," said Dave Hess, president of United Technologies' Pratt & Whitney engine-making unit and chairman of the Aerospace Industries Association. "We're all kind of waiting on the sidelines to see what happens. (7/9)

Omega Envoy Team Partners With Global Engineering Management and Support (Source: Earthrise Space)
Omega Envoy, the Florida team competing in the Google Lunar X PRIZE, and its parent company, Earthrise Space Inc. (ESI), are proud to welcome Global Engineering Management and Support, Inc. (G.E.M.S.) as a new partner. GEMS personnel will work with Omega Envoy students and staff to develop detailed spacecraft testing plans and to use GEMS proprietary technology to conduct critical tests of the team’s lunar spacecraft.

"Our expertise in space platform testing will help ensure that strict reliability and quality standards will be integrated within the entire system life cycle. We look forward to working closely with the entire ESI team to achieve a world class, affordable testing solution, meeting each operational challenge with distinction." said GEMS VP of Business Development Steve Fairbanks. "We bring a wealth of experience to the team, in return they allow us to share their entrepreneurial energy and academic curiosity. At the end of the day we are all about sharing innovation," said GEMS President & CEO Eva Kohfeldt. (7/9)

Life That Thrives on Arsenic? Not So Fast (Source: ABC News)
It was the talk of space scientists at the time. In 2010, a young researcher, Felisa Wolfe-Simon, published a paper in the journal Science, reporting that she and her colleagues had found bacteria in Mono Lake, Calif., that could be made to live on arsenic. Yes, arsenic — the poison. “Not only did this microbe cope,” said Wolfe-Simon, a NASA astrobiology research fellow at the U.S. Geological Survey, “but it grew and thrived. And that was amazing.” The microbe was called GFAJ-1.

But now Science has published two papers saying she was wrong — that the Mono Lake bacteria weren’t using arsenic compounds at all, but instead phosphorus, a very common building block of living things. “We conclude that GFAJ-1 is an arsenate-resistant, but still a phosphate-dependent bacterium,” wrote Tobias Erb and several fellow microbiologists in Zurich. (7/9)

Slap a Preservation Order on Mars (Source: Daily Mail)
Who owns the amazing landscapes of Mars, the towering ice cliffs of the Polar Caps, the sheer crater walls of Mount Olympus, the magnificence of the Mariner Valleys whose scale dwarfs even our own Grand Canyon? And what, if anything, should be done to protect them? These are not completely crazy questions. Currently, nobody 'owns' anything beyond Earth (online outfits offering to 'sell' you a star or chunk of Moonscape are just scams) but, one day, this will change.

Looking at the latest extraordinary images beamed back to Earth from the NASA Mars rover Opportunity, it struck me that we should start thinking about this sooner rather than later. The future history of Mars could go one of several ways. It is possible that Mars's only visitors for a century or more will be robotic. Maybe funding will run out even for that. But there is a chance, a small one perhaps but realistic nonetheless, that sometime in the 2060s or thenabouts someone, probably the Chinese but maybe others, will mount a manned mission to the fourth planet and that unlike Apollo this time they will stay. And then we have some interesting choices.

Editor's Note: Just another reason for international space treaties to be revisited and revised, to accommodate the kinds of achievable space enterprise that were unforeseen only a few decades ago. (7/9)

NASA Finds Overseas Ventures More Elusive (Source: Wall Street Journal)
The U.S. space program, after five decades of setting the agenda for exploration, appears increasingly stymied when it comes to new cooperative ventures with other countries. Russia and the European Space Agency, or ESA, are moving to team up on unmanned rovers intended to eventually retrieve soil samples from Mars, even as they seek to entice other nations to join them on potential lunar missions.

Over the years, Beijing has dramatically improved the reliability of its boosters and, partly for prestige, is pushing equally hard to accomplish the same for the communications, scientific and military satellites Chinese factories turn out. At the same time, India, Japan and Brazil are working separately to develop world-class boosters. And in Iran, which already has blasted a trio of satellites into orbit, government leaders maintain their goal remains sending a human into orbit, perhaps by the end of the decade.

NASA officials still extol the virtues of international partnerships, especially during the current era of general spending restrictions and constraints on scientific projects. NASA chief Charles Bolden repeatedly has said that multination ventures are essential to continue robust deep-space exploration. American scientists and government officials, however, no longer dominate how and when international partnerships are created. "It's much harder for the U.S. to maintain the lead it has enjoyed in space over the years," particularly in light of the "extraordinary competition coming from Europe and Asia," according to Peter Nesgos. Click here. (7/9)

Virgin Out to Steal the Show with Farnborough SpaceShipTwo Display (Source: Flight Global)
If you're looking out for show stealers at Farnborough, Virgin Galactic (OE23) is likely to be one of the candidates. The company will be lighting up the static display with a mockup of its SpaceShipTwo (SS2), which is set to begin rocket-powered flight trials this summer, with plans to blast its first "astronauts" beyond the atmosphere in early 2013. Sir Richard Branson himself will be appearing at the show on Wednesday to announce an expansion of the company's current business plans for space tourism and research. (7/9)

XCOR Plans Commercial Spaceflight R&D Center Headquarters in Texas (Source: SpaceRef)
The Midland Development Corporation (MDC) and XCOR Aerospace jointly announced the establishment of XCOR's new Commercial Space Research and Development Center Headquarters that will be created over the next eighteen (18) months. XCOR manufactures reusable rocket engines for major aerospace prime contractors and is the designer, manufacturer and operator of the Lynx, a winged fully reusable, high performance suborbital space vehicle that is designed to safely carry two persons or scientific experiments to the edge of space and back up to four times per day.

"This is a great day for Midland and a huge step forward for the State of Texas. Visionary companies, like XCOR, continue to choose Texas because they know that innovation is fueled by freedom," Gov. Perry said. "Whether on the cutting edge of biotech, communications, commerce or privatized efforts to serve the needs of the next generation of space explorers, you can find Texas at the forefront of the movement."

XCOR will be establishing their new R&D center on the flight line at Midland International Airport (MAF) in a newly renovated 60,000-square-foot hangar, which will include office space and a test facility. The renovation is expected to commence in early 2013, and be completed by the late autumn. "XCOR will be upgrading an existing hangar at Midland International Airport," stated Marv Esterly, director of airports at MAF. "This new R&D facility has the potential to open the door to even more economic development at our airport and for our community." (7/9)

Midland Airport Seeks FAA Spaceport License to Support XCOR (Source: SpaceRef)
In parallel with the XCOR facility renovation, the City of Midland is applying to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a Commercial Space Launch Site designation for MAF, an estimated 12 to 18 months process. Upon completion of the licensing process and the hangar renovation, the XCOR presence will begin to ramp up.

The FAA spaceport designation will also be an important economic development tool because of the potential growth in the commercial space sector as NASA relies more on commercial service providers for launch capability and the space tourism market evolves. Marv Esterly, noted, "When our application is approved, the MAF will be the first "Primary Commercial Service Airport" to be granted this designation, and the combination of the two makes Midland attractive to other commercial space companies." (7/9)

Getting the Most Out of ISS (Source: Space Safety)
Now that the International Space Station is fully operational, the ISS partners are determined to get the maximum possible scientific value out of the orbital laboratory before its scheduled closure in 2020. To that end, NASA is looking to make a few upgrades to the station, as Michael Suffredini, NASA’s station program manager, told the first ISS Research and Development Conference on June 26. “We don’t believe we should be spending any time and money trying to make the space station any bigger,” said Suffredini. “What we think we should be spending our resources on is making it able to produce more research.”

Those upgrades generally fall into two categories: equipment that can improve experimental measures in space and those that permit greater downmass capability. In the former category are improved video capability to record fluids and combustion research. In the latter, NASA plans to use SpaceX’s Dragon to trundle lockers to and from ISS along with redesigned freezers to store specimens between flights. Click here. (7/3)

Solar Tornadoes Could Be Replicated on Earth to Produce Clean Energy (Source: ZeeNews)
Washington: An international team of scientists has discovered tornadoes in space, which could hold the key to power the atmosphere of the Sun to millions of kelvin. The super tornadoes - which are thousands of times larger and more powerful than their earthly counterparts but which have a magnetic skeleton - spin at speeds of more than 6,000 mph at temperatures in millions of centigrade in the Sun’s atmosphere.

They are more than 1,000 miles wide – hundreds of miles longer than the total distance between Land’s End to John O’Groats. It is estimated that there are as many as 11,000 of these swirling events above the Sun’s surface at any time. “If we understand how nature heats up magnetised plasmas, like in the tornadoes observed in the Sun, one day we may be able to use this process to develop the necessary technology and build devices on Earth that produce free, clean, green energy,” said Professor Robertus Erdelyi. (6/28)

Goldman To Retire as Director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (Source: NASA)
Arthur E. "Gene" Goldman, director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., is retiring from the agency to accept a management position at Aerojet in Huntsville, effective Aug. 3. Robin Henderson, Marshall’s associate director, will serve as acting center director following his departure. His departure ends a 22-year career with NASA that began in 1990 as a project engineer in the Marshall space shuttle project integration office. (7/9)

Space Florida Taps ENSCO to Support State's UAS Initiative (Source: Space Florida)
Space Florida has selected ENSCO, Inc. – an engineering, science and advanced technology solutions company for the defense, security, transportation and aerospace industries – to play a leading role in its Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Initiative. The goal of the UAS Initiative is to develop a Florida-based UAS Test and Operational Range, leveraging existing state assets in partnership with civil and military government agencies, academia and industry. Space Florida is the principle sponsor of this effort and as such, will work to engage Federal, State and Department of Defense organizations in support of the FAA designation for Florida.

As part of the agreement with Space Florida, ENSCO, Inc. will develop the range architecture, safety plan, business model and promote partnerships and strategic collaborations to help facilitate the successful selection of Florida as one of six national UAS Test Ranges. Unmanned Aerial Systems are an important, growing technology and application area for our nation and the state of Florida. In February, Congress passed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, enabling widespread use of UAS technology for government and commercial use by late 2015. (7/9)

L2 Aerospace Partners with Cella Energy for Unmanned Systems (Source: L-2)
L2 Aerospace, an innovative company providing integrated ground, air and space-based products and services, is pleased to announce their partnership with Cella Energy, a company with patented technology in safe, low-cost hydrogen storage materials to produce longer duration unmanned systems. Unmanned aerial systems are one of the most important and growing areas of military technology. For small tactical unmanned systems near-term challenges include increased range, endurance, interoperability, reliability and plug-and-play payload modularity. (7/9)

Sponsors Invited for Apollo Program Finale Anniversary (Source: ASF)
You are invited to join the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) and more than 30 space heroes for the final Apollo 40th Celebration, the Apollo 17 40th Anniversary Dinner on November 3, 2012. This last homage to the conclusion of the Apollo program will take place at the Apollo Saturn V Center, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, honoring crew members Gene Cernan, Jack Schmitt, and the late Ron Evans, as well as all the missions of this era.

Become a sponsor today and your company will shine front and center during this milestone anniversary occasion, and receive extensive exposure through marketing efforts before and during the event. Your guests will enjoy a VIP reception; dinner beneath a Saturn V rocket with an astronaut at your table; as well as the grand finale, an
Linkunforgettable program given by the Apollo astronauts themselves, remembering the Apollo age and celebrating its grand accomplishments. Click here. (7/9)

Goddard Civil Service Buyout Approved (Source: SpaceRef)
NASA faces many challenges including re-shaping the NASA workforce to successfully meet changing mission requirements. In order to refocus the skill mix of our workforce to become more effectively aligned with current and anticipated funded work requirements, each Directorate has evaluated its workforce requirements and has identified eligible categories of positions that may be experiencing either a workforce surplus or that may be impacted by a possible reduction in work requirements and/or reduced funding in the immediate or near future. The eligible categories of positions are based entirely upon a combination of factors such as position competencies, position titles, geographic location, and/or grade levels. Goddard's Buyout/Early Out Incentive Plan has been approved. (7/9)

CNES Taps Arianespace for Small Satellite Launches (Source: Space News)
The French space agency, CNES, will launch at least one, and as many as three, small satellites using the agency’s Myriade small-satellite platform aboard Soyuz or Vega rockets under contracts announced July 9 with Europe’s Arianespace launch consortium. Under the contract, CNES’s Taranis satellite, designed to study what are known as “transient luminous events,” or lightning-type bursts, will be launched aboard either a Soyuz or Vega rocket in 2015 or 2016 from Europe’s Guiana Space Center in French Guiana. Taranis, expected to weigh 185 kilograms at launch, will operate from a 700-kilometer low Earth orbit and use its seven instruments to study energy transfers between the Earth’s atmosphere, the ionosphere and the magnetosphere. (7/9)

Goodrich's ORS-1 Satellite Completes its First Year in Space (Source: SpaceRef)
Goodrich Corp.'s ORS-1 satellite has celebrated its first anniversary in space. ORS-1, the first Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) satellite specifically designed to support combatant command operations, was launched from Wallops Island on a Minotaur I rocket on June 29, 2011. Designed, manufactured, integrated and tested by Goodrich's ISR Systems business in Danbury, CT, ORS-1 is a 500Kg class satellite providing game-changing impacts. In recognition of its ground breaking importance, ORS-1 was named one of the nation's 25 most important concepts by C4ISR Journal in 2011. (7/9)

Astronauts On the Future of Manned Spaceflight (Source: KSCVC)
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex invites you to a front row seat for a special presentation on July 11. Kennedy Space Center Director and former NASA astronaut, Robert Cabana, will lead a panel discussion with seven astronauts in the special presentation "Astronauts Speak Out on the Future of Human Spaceflight." Join a legendary panel of astronauts including; Kent Rominger, Jim Voss, Nicole Stott, Winston Scott, Chiaki Mukai, Garrett Reisman and Ken Bowersox as they share their perspectives on our future of human spaceflight. The presentation will be held in Astronaut Encounter Theater at 5 p.m. EST and is included in guest admission. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Click here. (7/9)

Gunpoint Stimulus (Source: Foreign Policy)
Defense contractors are trying to frighten Americans into believing that Pentagon budget cuts will destroy the economy. It's bogus. Since 1998, U.S. military spending has grown exponentially, reaching 20 percent of overall federal spending and more than half of discretionary spending-levels not seen since the end of World War II. In particular, the portion of the budget used to purchase equipment from private industry has doubled over the last 14 years, growing from about $100 billion in 1998 to nearly $200 billion today.

Unsurprisingly, the defense industry has enjoyed remarkable prosperity during this time, with industry profits quadrupling between 2001 and 2010. But with a struggling economy and the conclusion of two wars, the United States can no longer afford to fund a massive defense buildup in the absence of an existential threat. (7/2)

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