September 18, 2012

Defense Cuts Prompt Northrop to Accept 590 Job Buyouts (Source: LA Times) 
Northrop Grumman is trimming its payroll in response to reduced Pentagon spending, accepting 590 buyouts from aerospace workers, most of whom are in Southern California. The Aerospace Industries Association has warned that it anticipate more defense contractors will cut jobs as possible sequestration nears. (9/18)  

Pentagon's Fiscal 2014 Budget Ignores Sequestration (Source: The Hill) 
The Defense Department is crafting its fiscal 2014 budget and in that effort is leaving out one thing: sequestration cuts. "As we have said before, we are not planning for sequestration to take place, and that includes our work on the [fiscal] '14 budget," Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Elizabeth Robbins said. (9/18)  

Boeing is Cautious About Commercial Crew Future (Source: Flight Global) 
Although it has received a NASA award to develop its CST-100 capsule for the commercial crew program, Boeing says it will need more than the initially promised two space station flights per year to make the program viable long term. Boeing is working to secure revenue outside of NASA for the commercial flight work. (9/18)  

Embry-Riddle Receives $220,000 for McNair Scholars Program (Source: ERAU) 
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University recently learned that it will continue to receive federal funding for the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program that benefits approximately 25 disadvantaged students each year at the school’s Daytona Beach campus. The $219,892 grant from the U.S. Department of Education for the first budget period of October 2012 through September 2013 is expected to be reauthorized for a total of five years. 

Named for fallen Challenger astronaut Ron McNair, the program prepares undergraduate students for doctoral studies through financial and academic support. To qualify for the program, a student must be a citizen or legal resident of the United States, display academic promise and meet at least one of the three following criteria: a first-generation college student from a low-income background or from an ethnic group that is underrepresented in doctoral studies. (9/18)  

Spaceport Business Expo Planned at Port Canaveral on Oct. 16 (Source: NASA) 
The event will feature approximately 175 business and government exhibitors from the local community and across the country. Exhibitors will include vendors from a variety of technical product and service areas. Government purchasing agents and technical personnel will attend to learn what local and national vendors have to offer. Representatives of NASA, the U.S. Air Force, federal government prime contractors, and other federal government agencies will be available to answer questions about doing business with their respective organizations. Matchmaking will be offered; further information will be made available at the event. Click here. (9/17)  

Space Florida and NanoRacks (and CASIS) Research Competition Workshop on Oct. 5 (Source: Space Florida) 
Space Florida and NanoRacks have announced a partnership to host the Space Florida International Space Station (ISS) Research Competition. As part of this program, NanoRacks will provide up to eight Payload Box Units (NanoLabs) that will fly payloads to the ISS, with scientific research that will be conducted on board the U.S. National Lab. Space Florida will cover the costs of research payload transportation to the ISS for the eight winning applicants. 

The competition is designed to inspire innovation and enable unique research opportunities and access for customers to the ISS. Breakthroughs in material and life sciences, environmental monitoring, complex drugs and other consumer items enabled by space-based research benefit a broad range of emerging markets for government, commercial and academic customers. Research proposals will be reviewed and judged by an independent and scientifically qualified team, based on commercial viability and overall benefit to mankind. 

A preparatory workshop is being hosted by Space Florida and NanoRacks at the Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa, Florida, on Oct. 5. At the workshop, the application process, rules and requirements will be detailed. Representatives from NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) – the non-profit manager of the ISS U.S. National Laboratory – will also be present to advise attendees on the launch and research process. Click here. (9/18) 

House to Hold Hearing on LightSquared (Source: The Hill) 
The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subpanel on Oversight will hold a Friday hearing to examine the Federal Communications Commission’s review of bankrupt wireless firm LightSquared. The FCC granted LightSquared a conditional waiver to move forward with a nationwide 4G wireless network in 2011, but the agency moved to block the network earlier this year after tests showed it would interfere with critical GPS devices, including those used by airplane pilots. 

Republicans have questioned why the FCC allowed LightSquared to get as far as it did in the regulatory process. The hearing, titled “The LightSquared network: An investigation of the FCC’s role” will examine whether the FCC followed its own policies, procedures and precedents,according to a committee news release. (9/17) 

Embry-Riddle Plans Aerospace Industry/Career Expo on Oct. 10 (Source: ERAU) Looking for top-notch aerospace talent? Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University invites you to join us as an exhibitor at the 2012 Industry/Career Expo to be held October 10 in Daytona Beach, Florida. The Expo will give your company an open platform to recruit students and alumni of ERAU. Click here. (9/17) 

Space Florida Participates in Seminar for Nano-Sat Launch Challenge (Source: SPACErePORT) 
Space Florida's Percy Luney will discuss the draft rules for the NASA-sponsored Nano-Sat Launch Challenge during a seminar in California on Nov. 17. The Challenge will provide millions of dollars to the first teams able to launch two Cubesat-sized satellites into orbit within a one-week period. Space Florida is administering the competition under an agreement with NASA. Click here. (9/17) 

How Science Prize Challenges Can Change the World (Source CBS) 
While scientific discovery may be its own reward, the lure of prize money has fueled many a new innovation. In addition to quantity, prize challenges draw unconventional people into a field, while the thrill of competition drives people to share ideas and think in novel ways, said Neta Zach. "It's part of the psychology of prizes," Zach said. "If you give them a prize, they try to outsmart themselves and come up with new solutions, and are also more willing to venture into new fields." Here are some of the notable scientific contests and their resulting innovations. (9/17) 

Teachers In Space Update (Source: Suborbital Coalition) Teachers in Space was founded in 2004 as a non-profit project led by the Space Frontier Foundation with the aim of stimulating student interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). It does so by engaging and fostering the passion of their teachers for the emerging generation of space development, often referred to as NewSpace. Their vision is to “generate a transfer of this passion for space from teachers to their students, in a way that dramatizes the new reality of space, and through their study of STEM, as one vision for their futures. 

The goal of Teachers in Space is to renew a passion for the study of space for teachers who will in turn pass that excitement on to their students.” TiS will provide space-related education and experiences to teachers who will in turn pass their knowledge and passion on to entire generations of new students. The idea sounds good, but the means by which they achieve their goals is even better. Some teachers will get to experience actual spaceflight, while others will have the opportunity for extraordinary space related experiences and unique teaching materials. Click here. (9/17) 

When 'State of the Art' is Also Years Old (Source: BBC) 
It's possible to be brand new and old at the same time. That's the peculiarity of weather satellites and the way they're procured. Because of the billions it costs to develop these special space systems, they're purchased in batches. The satellites then sit in storage until they're needed. It means that newly launched spacecraft can in fact contain equipment which was delivered from the manufacturer years earlier. 

This is the case with Europe's latest meteorological platform - Metop-B. It is the second in a three-satellite series and has just gone into orbit on a Soyuz rocket. The first satellite, Metop-A, was launched back in 2006. The third platform, Metop-C, probably won't go up until about 2018. But all three of these spacecraft are circa early 2000s, and the industrial contracts that brought them into being were circa early 1990s. So you have to wonder - how can anything that "old" deliver any sort of service that can be described as "new"? 

When you lay eyes on this remaining satellite, you immediately recognize its age. A little plate screwed to the side of the instrument announces the name of the manufacturer - Matra-Marconi Space. It is a famous name that no longer exists, subsumed years ago into the pan-European aerospace giant Astrium. But, insists project manager Ian Stewart, "MHS was state of the art in '93, and it's state of the art today". (9/17)

China's Space Program Gathers Speed (Source: The Nation) 
With a NASA robot landing on Mars in August and China launching a woman into space in June, are we facing another space race? Some say yes, but it is clearly a race between the hare and the tortoise. The US is the hare which put a man on the moon in 1969 after a few years of rapid development, then failed to build on that achievement. By contrast China has a 30-year program of space exploration mapped out to the middle of this century,including the establishment of a permanently manned station on the moon by 2020. 

Last year China launched Yinghuo-1, a Mars exploration probe,in a joint mission with Russia. It planned to visit the moon of Phobos and orbit Mars, studying the planet's atmosphere, ionosphere and magnetic field. Unfortu-nately it crashed and China's current ambitions for Mars have taken a back seat to America's, most recently carrying out a probe of the surface of Mars studying its chemistry and biology with its rover Curiosity. However this will certainly not be the end of China's ambitions for Mars, which plans to send a manned expedition there by the middle of the century. 

China's interest in space is prompted by far more than mere curiosity, as space development will lead to tremendous economic, scientific and security benefits. These includes developing new frontiers in satellite and communications technology, providing military security, and gaining access to minerals and rare elements such as Helium 3, used in nuclear fusion, and considered to be the fuel source of the future. China also had high hopes that Yinghuo-1 would bring breakthroughs in fields such as biology, energy and technology. (9/17) 

India Planning Mars Mission For 2013 (Source: Red Orbit) 
India wants to be a part of all the recent Martian-craze and therefore has announced that it has plans to launch a space probe to orbit the Red Planet in November 2013. A senior official from India’s space research establishment said on Monday that they are planning to launch the mission when Mars is closer to the Earth. “We plan to put a spacecraft in an elliptical orbit for studying its atmosphere and detect presence of life on its surface,” said K. Radhakrishnan. 

The feat would mark another major stride in the country’s space program, which placed a probe on the moon three years ago. Radhakrishnan told reporters that the unmanned mission to Mars could cost nearly $90 million. India has attracted criticism as the government fails to take care of some of its children living in poverty, suffering from malnutrition. However, the ambitious space program has found scientific success, despite its criticism. (9/17)

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