August 4, 2012

Floridians Worry About Romney's Silence On Space Policy (Source: SpaceRef)
As NASA announced three new agreements as part of their Commercial Crew Integrated Capability program, Mitt Romney continues refusing to tell Floridians the truth about his vision for the space program. Obama for America-Florida Press Secretary Eric Jotkoff released the following statement: "President Obama has laid out an ambitious new direction for NASA by setting the groundwork for a sustainable program of exploration and innovation that will create jobs on the space coast and usher in a new era of human space flight..."

"As Floridians have seen President Obama's continued commitment on moving our nation's space program forward, Mitt Romney refuses to answer even the most basic questions surrounding space policy. He won't say if he supports President Obama's efforts to support and grow America's commercial space industry, and as each day passes, it becomes increasingly clear that Mitt Romney has no clear vision for NASA." Click here. (8/4)

NASA Tech Chief Spotlights Connection Between Deep Sea, Space (Source: Aviation Week)
Oceaneering Space Systems, the aerospace arm of the global oilfield engineering services provider Oceaneering International, Inc., drew positive reviews from NASA chief technologist Mason Peck this week for the company’s success at delivering and leveraging technologies beneficial to deepwater and space applications. The association, which dates back to 1978, has brought an estimated $1 billion in revenues to the company from the space agency in exchange for its role in developing a range of new technologies.

The advances include tools with a deep-sea heritage used by astronauts to overhaul the Hubble Space Telescope and assemble the International Space Station; portable instrumentation for the characterization of protein crystals cultured in weightlessness for new medications; and the fabrication of advanced thermal protection materials that may help humans land on Mars.

“We’ve come here to understand better this kind of connection between the technology developed for the space program and the products that end up spinning off into the larger economy,” Peck during an Aug. 1 visit to Oceaneering’s 250-person space systems engineering lab. He was accompanied by Michael Gazarik, NASA’s space technology program director. (8/3)

NASA 'Space Taxi' Will Result in Space Coast Jobs (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Three companies with ties to Cape Canaveral were selected by NASA on Friday as the winners of a $1.1 billion competition to build so-called "space taxis" to ferry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, a decision that could result in 1,500 or more new jobs on the Space Coast. Boeing was awarded $460 million and will use an empty shuttle garage at KSC to assemble the capsule, a move expected to bring an estimated 550 jobs to the Space Coast.

SpaceX was awarded $440 million and will increase its Space Coast presence. "I'm expecting hiring in Florida to increase quite dramatically in coming years," said Musk, who estimates the company eventually would employ 1,000 workers at the Cape. Sierra Nevada was awarded $212.5 million and plans to open a KSC facility within about a year...without estimates on future employment figures.

Though the awards announced Friday give the three companies a tremendous financial advantage, they do not guarantee a contract. Each company must first meet several milestones over the next 21 months to get the full amount of money. Even then, NASA plans another round of competition to determine which design -- or designs -- ultimately are deemed safe enough to carry NASA astronauts to the station. (8/3)

Range Issue Spells Two-Week Delay for NROL-36 and ‘Rosie’ (Source: America Space)
A baker’s dozen of satellites – including a critical $1.3 billion sentinel for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), designed to electronically monitor worldwide military and civilian shipping – have been forced to wait for launch until 14 August, following a range instrumentation problem which scrubbed yesterday’s attempt with only minutes remaining on the clock.

United Launch Alliance’s mighty Atlas V booster was fully fueled and waiting out an extended hold in the final stages of the countdown, when, despite acceptable weather conditions at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the range remained ‘Red’, indicative of a ‘No-Go’ status for launch. Hopes were kindled to make a second attempt this morning (Friday) or early tomorrow (Saturday), but despite technicians’ best efforts these have ultimately proven fruitless. (8/4)

The Red, Gold & the Gutter -- Space Exploration, Olympics and Politics (Source: Huffington Post)
The Olympics and Curiosity's arrival at Mars. These two inspirational events stand in stark contrast with ongoing deluge of sewage dumped into the American psyche each day by our so-called leaders in what one might call a political season, if it had not now become a year round, every year, all the time 24/7/365 fist fight and fiasco of failure.

On the one hand we see humanity and human beings striving for all things good and pure, rising above their relegated realities to reach for something beyond themselves, where the team triumphs and the glory of one is shared by the effort of all. On the other the most base and banal aspects of a bestial craving for control and wealth at all costs, where all is sacrificed for the one and the glory goes to none.

As far as I am concerned the whiners of Wall Street and the political pundits, power players and the swarms of sycophantic sound bite spewing sewage rats that surround them can stuff it. They are the wrong stuff, and their self-glorification is an obscenity. No matter what they say of themselves, they are not that important. They lead us nowhere but down, they offer nothing but taking, and give back to us only the reminder of how we should not be as human beings. Were it not such an insult to the Solar System, I would offer them all a one way ride to the Red Planet. (8/4)

Space: Still Cool After All These Years (source: Forbes)
Even at a time of deep divisions and serious partisan divide, in an era of reflexive cynicism and gotcha journalism, space exploration seems to elicit the very best in us, bringing together the sense of wonder and awe we associate with space with the feeling of technological achievement and shared commitment to mission we connect with space flight.

Perhaps it’s no wonder that so many entrepreneurs are captivated by space as well – Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Esther Dyson, Richard Branson, and Paul Allen, among others. The goal is audacious, requiring passion, vision, boldness – to say nothing of extremely deep pockets. (8/4)

Editorial: An Age of Exploration - U.S. Hasn’t Turned its Back on Space (Source: Register-Guard)
When the U.S. retired its space shuttle fleet last year, there was a palpable sense that the golden age of space exploration was over. No crew had visited the moon since 1972, and without the shuttle the U.S. was left without a means of putting astronauts in orbit. Americans, it seemed, had taken a few bold steps into space, then turned their backs and closed the door.

Don’t believe it. The U.S. continues to conduct space missions as daring as any of the earlier eras, and in many ways more productive. The missions don’t include astronauts, but they include everything else necessary to expand human understanding of the universe: astonishing technical expertise, ground-breaking engineering, precise teamwork, national commitment and, above all, imagination. (8/4)

Who Will Rule the Business of Space? Humans...or Robots? (Source: KPCC)
Sunday’s landing of the Mars rover Curiosity has generated a lot of excitement about the space program. And with the arrival of commercial space-exploration startups in the big way -— see SpaceX and its Space Station servicing mission, Virgin Galactic and its push into space tourism and launch services for NASA -— the Curiosity mission has also revived an old debate: Should we focus on sending robots, or people, into space?

We’ve been asking ourselves that question ever since we started blasting rockets into the void. The physicist Stephen Hawking strongly backs manned flights. He believes that it's imperative to colonize outer space if humanity is to survive (the Earth won't last forever, and you never know if a catastrophic event will occur, such as an asteroid strike or runaway climate change).

On the other hand, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg considers manned space flight a “spectator sport” that diminishes the impact of what he considers the real-deal: research into the essence of the universe. We get a lot more bang for our buck from low-cost robotic space exploration. But there are others have no patience for the debate. Scott Hubbard once ran NASA’s Mars program. Now he teaches about robotic exploration at Stanford, calls the choice between humans and robots a "false dichotomy." (8/4)

ATK Draws Short Stick, Utah Congressman Suspects Politics (Source:
NASA committed more than a billion dollars to three companies Friday to help get the U.S. back into the manned space program. But the big player in Utah was left out in the cold. Zero dollars for Alliant Techsystems Inc. and its Liberty rocket project. "This is very disappointing and it comes from an administration, to be honest, that has been disappointing," said Rep. Rob Bishop, R-UT, injecting the possibility that politics played a role in the selection of the companies competing with ATK.

NASA would not offer specific information about the selection process. But Bishop, Utah's 1st District congressman, wants to know more. He called ATK's Liberty rocket the least expensive, safest and most reliable of those proposed.
"The ATK proposal is exactly the kind of program they were requesting," Bishop said. He wants NASA officials to meet with the Utah delegation to explain its decision.

"I want to make sure that there were no political institutions or political considerations that took place in this, that the winning companies did not come from swing states, nor companies that have had prior relationships with this particular administration," Bishop said. ATK officials would not comment Friday other than to say they're disappointed and hoping to hear an explanation from NASA. (8/4)

Black Holes Seen as Seeds for Galaxies (Source: USA Today)
Massive engines of destruction, black holes lurk at the center of most galaxies, astronomers report. That includes our own Milky Way. Astronomers report that these collapsed stars, with gravity so strong that even light cannot escape their grasp, seemingly grow up and hide out within most galaxies. Click here. (8/4)

New Start-Up Aims to Fill Funding Gap for Space Projects (Source:
A new start-up company is hoping to ride the crowdsourcing wave to privately raise millions of dollars to fund scientific research, space exploration projects and other educational initiatives. The company, called Uwingu (which means "sky" in Swahili), was founded by a team of noted astronomers, planetary scientists, educators and other industry officials. The idea was to create new ways for people to receive funding for innovative projects beyond the existing grants infrastructure.

"It started a couple years back, and central to it was the idea that there really isn't an alternative for space researchers and educators other than NASA, and a bit from the National Science Foundation," said Alan Stern, a planetary scientist and the former associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. "So, people are really living and dying in those fields by what happens to NASA's budget. We thought, why can't we create a 21st century way to provide an alternative?" (8/3)

NASA Investigates Proton Radiation Effects on Cells (Source: NASA)
A team of researchers at NASA's Johnson Space Center and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has found radiation from protons could further enhance a process that occurs during tumor progression. This information may help lead to better methods to protect astronauts from the harmful effects of radiation in space, as well as help cancer researchers on Earth better understand the effects of radiation treatment on the human body.

NASA is particularly interested in this research because protons, which are charged subatomic particles, are the main source of space radiation astronauts receive during spaceflights. The study was part of NASA's ongoing effort to learn how to mitigate the effects of radiation during long-duration missions to destinations beyond low Earth orbit, such as asteroids and Mars. (8/3)

NASA Plans Commercial Crew Status Meeting at KSC on Aug. 8 (Source: NASA)
NASA will present an updated status of the Commercial Crew Program (CCP) strategy on Aug. 8 at the Press Site at Kennedy Space Center from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. The Program Forum's topics will include an overview of the Commercial Crew certification strategy and NASA's intentions for future procurement opportunities. The Commercial Crew Program will accept clarification questions during the forum webcast from attendees and via teleconference. (8/4)

Florida Governor Heads to Jacksonville to Ink the Nation’s Newest Spaceport (Source: Sunshine State News)
Florida Gov. Rick Scott held a ceremonial bill-signing on Saturday designating Cecil Field as the nation’s eighth spaceport. Cecil Field was designated a spaceport by the federal government in 2010. The designation allows launch vehicles to make horizontal takeoffs and landings on site. The state bill, HB 59, offers companies involved in “spaceport activities” at Cecil Field the chance of tax exemptions on equipment purchases. (8/3)

NASA Contracts Have Potential for Volusia Jobs, Business (Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)
More than $1 billion in federal contracts to three aerospace companies to boost development of next-generation human spaceflight vehicles could mean more jobs and opportunities for Volusia residents and businesses, local officials said. The effort is expected to "create high-paying jobs in Florida and elsewhere across the country," he said.

In Volusia County, a boost could come not only in potential employment for the hundreds of county residents who lost their jobs at Kennedy Space Center when NASA ended its Space Shuttle program, but also by possibly creating opportunities for companies here to become suppliers in the effort to develop new space vehicles. John Johnson, president of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, said NASA's announcement could greatly benefit the university, including more internships for ERAU students. "It does suggest some opportunity for Embry-Riddle," he said. "We're excited about it." (8/4)

NASA Contracts Benefit North Las Vegas Outfit (Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The private space race is affecting a small Las Vegas company. Two of the CCiCap winners - Boeing and SpaceX - have partnered with North Las Vegas-based Bigelow Aerospace on orbit-related projects. Robert Bigelow, owner and president of Bigelow Aerospace, called the funding "more aggressive" than prior NASA contracts and said he was "very happy" about the ramped-up investment, which will nearly double the workforce at his North Las Vegas plant.

Bigelow just opened a 185,000-square-foot addition, bringing its North Las Vegas plant up to about 350,000 square feet. It slashed its work force from 150 before the recession to 50 during the downturn; now, it's looking to jump back up to 90 workers by Christmas. It's hiring structural, mechanical and electrical engineers, as well as chemists, molecular biologists and workers who craft composite spacecraft parts.

Bigelow said he has marked 2016 as a year when spacecraft availability will meet growing customer demand, and things really take off for the business. "This is an embryonic situation where we've been in research-and-development mode for the last decade," Bigelow said. "As with anything you're trying to create from scratch, it takes a while to finally get to a point where you have something that's marketable. We are starting to approach that point in our little company." Bigelow said the company has ambitions beyond low-Earth orbit: He's looking at getting involved in travel to the moon and even to Mars. (8/4)

Spreading the Gospel of Space Exploration (Source: Daily Press)
Where Tony Rice goes in the name of space exploration, so goes his Astronaut Snoopy doll. All day Friday, Rice and Snoopy were among 30 participants in a rare tour of NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, designed to give social media aficionados the chance to tweet, blog, post, photograph and instant message about the cool, cutting-edge work going on behind closed security doors. NASA calls them "socials."

There was Snoopy snapped next to the Orion spacecraft. There, inside the transonic dynamics tunnel. And there, with a model of the Dream Chaser shuttle craft. The pictures were soon rocketed off to the ether. For Rice, a software engineer who works in Raleigh, N.C., and volunteers to teach kids about math and science, the tour was a "golden opportunity to get fodder." (8/4)

Beidou Navigation System Test Network Set for 2015 (Source: Xinhua)
China will build a testing and certification network for its Beidou satellite navigation system over the next three years to sharpen the system's global competitiveness. An authoritative testing and certification system with uniform standards and legal support will secure the Beidou system's safe operation and accelerate its industrialization, according to a statement. By 2015, a national testing center will be set up in Beijing, while another seven local sub-centers will be established across the nation. (8/4)

NASA To Propose Next Astronomy Flagship Mission in 2015 (Source: Space News)
NASA plans to wait until 2015 to lay out a proposal for its next big astrophysics mission, which could take the form of a single large spacecraft or a series of smaller craft performing related studies, a senior agency official said July 30. A new flagship mission stands almost no chance of being funded until after work is finished on the budget-busting James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which is scheduled to launch in 2018. But the planning can begin before JWST begins its five-year mission. (8/4)

NASA Takes More Than a Year to Provide Shuttle Decision Documents (Source: Dayton Daily News)
After NASA chose not to assign a retired space shuttle last year to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, the Dayton Daily News filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking NASA to provide documents supporting its decisions on where to send the orbiters. NASA initially took 13 months to deny in full the newspaper’s request, then partially granted an appeal by providing a package of dozens of essentially identical letters that had been sent to members of Congress, governors and big-city mayors to state reasons for the space agency’s allocation of the orbiters. Click here. (8/4)

China Spacesat H1 Profits Rise 15.2 Percent (Source: Xinhua)
China Spacesat Co., Ltd., the nation's key developer of small satellites, reported 15.2-percent profit increase in the first half, due to steady business expansion. The net profits totaled 113.9 million yuan (17.8 million) in the first six months. The sales revenues of the company reached 1.78 billion yuan in the January-June period, up 19.34 percent year-on-year. The company said its stable growth was realized due to the nation's booming space industry, as China vowed to step up its technology-intensive emerging industries in the 2011-2015 period. (8/4)

Florida Companies Selected for Construction Contracts at Stennis (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected six indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity multiple award construction contracts at the agency's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss. The fixed price contracts consist of a performance period of five years, with a total value not to exceed $700 million. Three of the companies are from Florida, including Advon Corp. of Tallahassee; Harry Pepper & Associates of Jacksonville; and Sauer Inc. of Jacksonville. (8/3)

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