September 1, 2012

CSR Wins Air Force Range Work at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: DOD)
Computer Sciences Raytheon (CSR) has been awarded an $82.2 million Air Force contract for operations, maintenance, and sustainment of critical range and launch processing systems that support the launch processing mission of the 45th Space Wing. Work is to be completed by Sep. 30, 2012. Editor's Note: 2012? (8/30)

L-3 and Harris Win Air Force Contracts (Source: DOD)
L-3 Communications Corp. in Orlando is among four companies selected by the Air Force for a $125 million contract modification for a suborbital "Sounding Rocket Program". Work is to be completed by March 17, 2015. Meanwhile, Harris Corp. in Palm Bay has won a $9.15 million contract for Space Test and Training Range Space Range Operation Center systems updates and improvements. (9/1)

Endeavour Will Not Delay Exit for Space Coast Airshow (Source: Florida Today)
The orbiter Endeavour will fly over Cocoa Beach on its way to California later this month, weather permitting, but it won’t be flying over the Cocoa Beach Air Show. Despite a request from event organizers, NASA is not postponing Endeavour’s scheduled Sep. 17 departure from Kennedy Space Center.

Mounted atop a modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, Endeavour will make stopovers in Houston and a back-up shuttle landing site in the Mojave Desert before arriving at Los Angeles International Airport on Sept. 20. The Cocoa Beach Air Show is scheduled to take place the following weekend: Sept. 22 and Sept. 23. Event organizers wanted NASA to delay departure and fly the orbiter over the air show, saying it would be an economic boon for an area hit hard by layoffs resulting from shuttle fleet retirement. (8/31)

Orlando Museum of Art salutes Neil Armstrong with Painting (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
The Orlando Museum of Art has put on display "The Great Moment," a painting of American astronaut Neil Armstrong by Paul Calle. The artwork commemorates the historic first manned lunar landing, which was commanded by Armstrong. He died Aug. 25 at the age of 82. (8/31)

Hundreds Pay Tribute to Neil Armstrong at KSC (Source: Reuters)
As family and friends of Neil Armstrong gathered in Ohio on Friday for a private memorial service, NASA paid tribute to the Apollo astronaut, calling him a great American and a space hero. "He never dwelled on his remarkable accomplishments or sought the limelight," Kennedy Space Center director and former astronaut Robert Cabana said during a short tribute to Armstrong at the Visitor Complex's Apollo-Saturn 5 Center. "He just wanted to be part of this remarkable team and to continue to move us forward," Cabana said. (8/31)

JPL Director: Visiting Mars a ‘Question of National Will’ (Source: CNN)
August has been a busy month for Charles Elachi, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The rover Curiosity successfully landed on Mars on August 6, flawlessly executing the improbable acrobatics of touching down on the Red Planet intact. President Obama congratulated Elachi and colleagues on the achievement and complimented them on the coolness of “Mohawk Guy” on August 13. Curiosity also completed its test drive and passed many initial inspections.

This week, Elachi visited Atlanta’s Georgia Institute of Technology, where he signed an agreement with the school that will involve exchanging faculty, inviting students to JPL, and other collaborations. Elachi sat down with CNN's Elizabeth Landau and Sophia Dengo for a chat about the future of space exploration. Click here for an edited transcript. (8/31)

Mitt Romney Ignores Space Policy in Acceptance Speech (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Based on his previous statements, we know that Mitt Romney would fire anyone who brought him a plan for a crewed lunar base, so a return to the moon doesn’t seem to be in the cards. That’s true of Obama’s space policy as well, so there seems to be one thing the two men agree on. What else Romney wants to do in space remains a mystery. This is a major disappointing in that he’s been running for President for six years (or eight, depending upon how you count it). You would think by now he would have some idea. (8/31)

Indonesia to Launch Satellite Monitoring Maritime Traffic (Source: Xinhua)
Indonesia is set to have more eyes in its skies with the launch of the Lapan A2 satellite to monitor traffic across its vast maritime expanses. The satellite, weighing 78 kilograms, was designed, assembled and tested in-house by the Institute for Aeronautics and Space (Lapan) and will be the nation's first satellite running in an equatorial orbit that is equipped with an automated remote-sensing system. (9/1)

Hurricane Forecasters Eager for New Tool in Space (Source:
Two satellites orbiting 22,300 miles above Earth kept Hurricane Isaac in their sights as it churned toward Louisiana, giving meteorologists clues on the storm's wandering course and intensity. One spacecraft - GOES 13 - was in place to cover the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, and another satellite was activated from standby mode and provided close-up high-resolution imagery scans once per minute.

Without the satellites, forecasters would have been unable to track the storm's movement or strength, putting countless more lives at risk from the hurricane's wrath. Despite advancements in satellite technology and numerical computer models, predicting tropical weather is still wrought with uncertainty. Five-day outlooks often have a track error of hundreds of miles, and forecasting a hurricane's intensity is even more difficult.

NOAA is preparing forecasters for a new series of spacecraft with advanced imagers and more robust instruments designed to further reduce forecasting blunders. "The next big thing on the horizon is the next generation of GOES, which is GOES R starting in 2015, and there will be another step up in what we can do with weather monitoring and hurricane analysis," said Mark DeMaria. (9/1)

NASA Conference Travel Prompts Lawmaker Query (Source: Space News)
The chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA is asking the agency to detail how much it is spending to send employees to the 63rd International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Naples, Italy, in October. “While this conference merits participation by NASA, it is difficult to accept that taxpayers should fund travel, lodging and conference fees for ‘50 or more NASA employees’ to visit Italy,” U.S. Rep Frank Wolf (R-VA) wrote in an Aug. 27 letter. (8/31)

NOAA’s Plans Now Call for Launching 2 JPSS Satellites in 2016 (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) program now plans to launch two satellites in 2016 — the long-planned JPSS-1 and a smaller spacecraft with a cache of at least three instruments, an official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Aug. 27. The added spacecraft, known for now as Free Flyer 1, would launch “in latter half of calendar year 2016,” according to Harry Cikanek, NOAA’s JPSS program director. JPSS-1, which NASA is building at its Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., using funds from NOAA, is slated to launch in late 2016. (8/31)

Air Liquide Worried Ariane 6 Could Leave Cryogens Out in the Cold (Source: Space News)
The supplier of cryogenic propellant for Europe’s Ariane 5 rocket is raising the alarm that a move toward a next-generation vehicle that discards cryogenics could put an end to a half-century’s development of the technology in France. Air Liquide, with $18.1 billion in annual revenue, will not suffer a financial blow if an Ariane 6 vehicle scraps cryogenics and forces a shutdown of Air Liquide’s liquid-oxygen and liquid-hydrogen production.

Air Liquide’s entire space business, including work here, in Vernon, France, and at Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana on the northeast coast of South America, generates just over 1 percent of the group’s total revenue. But such a decision would have domino effects on cryogenic work at Europe’s high-energy physics research facility, CERN. (8/31)

NASA Selects Safety Support Contract At Wallops Flight Facility (Source: NASA)
NASA has awarded a contract to Virginia-based Millennium Engineering and Integration Company to provide range and institutional safety support at the agency's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia. The five-year contract is worth as much as $25 million. Institutional safety ensures compliance with NASA and Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards related to the operations and construction of new or modified facilities and complex systems. (8/31)

Khrunichev Struggles With Upper Stage Quality (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Following the failure of a Proton rocket earlier this month, Khrunichev published figures on its launches and success rate for the past five years to correct what it saw as erroneous information circulating in the media. The data and analysis below is based on that information. I have added success rate percentages, rewritten Khrunichev’s information to make it more readable, and added my own analysis.

The overall picture is one of a company struggling with quality control on its own upper stages, with the resulting loss of about 10 percent of its launches. All five launch failures have been caused by malfunctions of the rockets’ upper stages. The “Breeze-M” produced by Khrunichev has failed three times, once on the Rockot and three times on Proton. A Khrunichev Breeze-KM stage failed once. The other launch failure was caused by a problem with the Blok-DM upper stage built by RSC Energia. Click here. (9/1)

Putin: Russian Space Industry Structure Needs Upgrading (Source: Itar-Tass)
The Russian space industry structure needs upgrading, President Vladimir Putin told Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and Federal Space Agency Head Vladimir Popovkin on Friday. He asked them to make related proposals. "You may also propose personnel reshuffle if necessary,” Putin said. (8/31)

Labor Day in Space: Astronauts Prepare for Extra Spacewalk (Source:
It's almost Labor Day in the United States and while many Americans across the country will enjoy a three-day holiday weekend, astronauts in space are gearing up for a potential extra spacewalk next week. Astronauts living on the International Space Station will likely spend Labor Day weekend preparing their spacesuits and tools for a possible spacewalk to finish a repair job that was cut short by a jammed bolt on Thursday.

NASA astronaut Sunita Williams and Japanese spaceflyer Akihiko Hoshide spent more than eight hours outside the space station on Thursday to perform repairs. But, a single sticky space station bolt prevented them from replacing a faulty piece of power system hardware. Williams and Hoshide will not perform an extra spacewalk on the Labor Day holiday on Monday (Sept. 3), but they may have to get their spacesuits ready and discuss plans for the orbital repair work with flight controllers and engineers on Earth. (8/31)

Have We Already Colonized Mars? (Source: Discovery)
Addressing the insatiable curiosity of its builders, NASA's roving Mars Science Laboratory has taken its first small "roll for mankind" in search of unraveling the clues to the habitability of Mars, past and present. However, there is a small chance that Martian evolutionary history may be confused by the presence of hitchhiking microbes from Earth.

To date, a total of a dozen U.S., Soviet, and European spacecraft have landed or crashed on Mars. They were all sterilized before leaving Earth, but were the procedures good enough to wipe out every last stowaway Earth bug? If we were to determine Mars has been biocontaminated by microscopic colonists from Earth, it would open a Pandora’s box of astrobiological issues. (9/1)

SETI's Alien Search to Get Cash from New Start-Up (Source:
The cash-strapped SETI Institute is set to get money from a new start-up firm to aid in its search for alien life. The start-up company, called Uwingu, recently launched with an aim to fill gaps in space research funding. The firm's first bundle of available cash will go to the SETI Institute's Allen Telescope Array (ATA), a set of 42 radio dishes in Northern California designed to pick up extraterrestrial signals.

"We don't have to wait to begin helping space research until we launch our first product, we're starting now!" Uwingu CEO Alan Stern said in a statement. "SETI is one of the noblest and most important space research enterprises," added Stern, a planetary scientist and the former associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. (8/31)

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