November 8, 2012

Smith Wants Science Committee Chairmanship (Source: The Hill)
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) has thrown his hat in the ring to become chairman of the House Science Committee. Smith — who has also questioned human-induced climate change — is currently chairman of the Judiciary Committee, but must leave the post due to term limits on chairmanships. He said the science job is his true calling. I won the Bausch & Lomb Science Award in high school, studied astronomy and physics in college, and later earned my pilot’s license.  So I have had a longstanding interest in subjects overseen by the Science Committee.” Smith said.

"It is important that NASA have a unifying mission. Even though it has been almost 40 years since man last set foot on the moon, we should continue to shoot for the stars. And we can help future generations get there by encouraging kids to study in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)."

"If America is going to remain competitive in today’s global economy, we need to remain innovative and focused on exploring science and expanding new technologies. Through the work, research and development of American innovators, we can reach our goal of energy independence, develop new technologies to save lives, and discover new worlds in outer space." (11/8)

Rohrabacher Wants Science Committee Chairmanship (Source: Science)
The race to become the next head of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (SST) is heating up. Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) today issued a statement confirming that he wants the job. "I intend to be a chairman who exemplifies the Republican philosophy that science, technology and innovation offer a pathway to a better, more prosperous future, and solve problems that bureaucracy and rampant government spending cannot," he wrote.

Rohrabacher says his priorities would include: "making certain NASA has a real, achievable plan for near-term human space exploration; directing the Department of Energy to concentrate their resources on advanced energy concepts leading to energy independence; reforming all departments and agencies under SST jurisdiction by bringing them back to their core missions and proper roles; increasing opportunities to achieve national science goals by leveraging the capabilities and resources of industry; and making the committee a forum for respectful debate and discussion of science and science policy." (11/8)

State Funding Could Secure X-37 Operations at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Florida Today)
Space Florida's board approved spending up to $5 million to repurpose Kennedy Space Center facilities for potential use by a classified military program. Labeled Project Coyote, the program was not discussed but is widely speculated to be the U.S. Air Force's X-37B reusable mini-shuttle. The Air Force has previously said it is exploring cost-savings that could be achieved by consolidating X-37B launch, landing and refurbishment operations in one location.

Landing and refurbishment currently are performed in California, but the Air Force has also said the third unmanned X-37B mission -- targeted for a Nov. 27 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop an Atlas V rocket -- could land on KSC's shuttle runway. One of NASA's Orbiter Processing Facilities could be used. All the funding for work on the hangars comes from the Florida Department of Transportation, which has a $15 million budget this fiscal year for space infrastructure upgrades. (11/8)

Sensenbrenner Seeks House Science Committee Chairmanship (Source: SpaceRef) Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) issued this statement regarding the Chairmanship of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology: "I am seeking the chairmanship for the House Science Committee because our nation's science and space policy is at a critical juncture. The committee requires strong and effective leadership, and I want to bring my experience and proven record of legislative success to the committee."

"If given the opportunity to serve as Science chair, my first priority will be to pass smart science and space policy that spurs job creation and ensures America's future competitiveness. Specifically, we must responsibly fund our research and development programs, refocus NASA and foster the developing private space industry, and put the United States back on a path toward being a leader in STEM education."

"Additionally, it's more important than ever that the House exercises our constitutional oversight role. The Obama Administration has shown its willingness to manipulate science for political ends and threaten our domestic energy production and our economy in the process. I have a record of effective oversight, and I will continue to keep the Administration accountable for their use of science in crafting regulations and policies." (11/8)

Florida Firm Wins NASA Phase-Two SBIR Grant (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected 39 small business proposals to enter into negotiations for Phase 2 contract awards through the agency's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. The SBIR program partners with small businesses to catalyze efforts to develop new technologies to support NASA's technology needs. The selected Phase 2 projects will expand on the results of Phase 1 projects selected last year, with up to $700,000 to support research for up to two years. Florida's CommLargo, Inc., of St. Petersburg, won for their work on "Scintillation-Hardened GPS." (11/8)

U.S. Air Force Survived Close Call on GPS Launch (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force was fortunate not to lose a navigation satellite after the rocket on which it was launched Oct. 4 experienced engine trouble. Gen. William Shelton, commander of Air Force Space Command, said the service is not even close to finishing its investigation of the anomaly that occurred during the ultimately successful launch of the GPS 2F-3 satellite aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta 4 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport.

The launcher’s RL-10 upper-stage engine underperformed during the mission but still managed to place the satellite into its intended orbit using reserve fuel. Shelton characterized the mission’s ultimate success as a “diving save.” Had the satellite been heavier or the mission profile more constrained —- GPS missions do not require the full lift capability of a Delta 4 rocket -— the result could have been a failure to reach orbit, he said.

At least two upcoming missions have been delayed by the investigation. The Air Force has postponed by at least a month the scheduled late-October launch of an experimental space plane aboard a ULA-built Atlas 5 rocket, whose upper-stage engine is an RL-10 variant. The launch of a NASA Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, also aboard an Atlas 5, was pushed from December to January. (11/8)

Russian Government To Discuss Options for Restructuring Roscosmos (Source: Space Policy Online)
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has revealed that the Russian government will hold a conference on Nov. 26 to discuss options to restructure Russia's space agency, Roscosmos. Vladimir Putin put Rogozin in charge of identifying the problems in Russia's space industry that led to an unusual number of launch failures and then recommending solutions.

Rogozin, who is in charge of Russia's defense, nuclear and space sectors, said the Nov. 26 meeting will be in Dmitry Medvedev's office and he will report on the findings of three different groups on how to reorganize Roscosmos. President Putin fired his defense minister, Anatoly Serdyukov, on Tuesday. Several of his subordinates are being investigated for fraud and corruption, the public reason for his dismissal. But Russia's RIA Novosti cites political infighting between Serdyukov and other government officials, including Rogozin, as the real cause. (11/7)

Re-Establish the National Space Council (Source: Nicholas Eftimiades)
This is the Executive Summary of a proposal I drafted to re-create a National Space Council. This body would have significantly different roles, responsibilities, and staffing from previous iterations. With the Cold War a distant sight in the rear view mirror there is an opportunity to advance the nation's position in space by reformulating how we coordinate and integrate space planning, requirements, technology development, and capabilities. Click here.

Editor's Note: The re-establishment of the National Space Council--a multi-agency body that was led by the Vice President--was proposed by then-Senator Obama during his first presidential campaign over four years ago. Perhaps this is something that can be accomplished at the start of his second term. (11/8)

Changes Coming On House Defense Committees (Source: Aviation Week)
Rep. Bill Young (R-FL), the leader of the House spending panel on defense, has hung on to his seat, leaving him in position to lead an effort to pass a full-year fiscal 2013 defense spending bill, potentially by late March. Young’s ongoing tenure adds some stability to the panel, where mass turnover otherwise will take place on the Democratic side. In addition to the retirement of Rep. Norm Dicks (WA), the panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Steve Rothman (D-NJ) are also departing.

And while the leaders of the House Armed Services Committee, Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), will return for the 113th Congress, they will be looking to fill at least six vacancies on the committee. Rep. Allen West (R-FL), an outspoken former Army officer who rode into office on the tea party wave as one of the committee’s “Lucky 13” freshmen, was ousted by Democrat Patrick Murphy. (11/8)

After SpaceX Visit, French Lawmakers Urge Early Start on Ariane 6 (Source: Space News)
The French parliamentary committee responsible for technology evaluation on Nov. 8 threw its weight behind a proposal that Europe scrap a mid-life upgrade of the Ariane 5 rocket in favor of an early start on a next-generation Ariane 6 rocket. The committee said its assessment of the global landscape for commercial launch services concluded that Europe had no time to lose in developing a lower-cost vehicle.

The committee paid special attention to the U.S. startup launch services provider, SpaceX, whose Falcon 9 production plant the committee visited. The visit apparently left a vivid impression. French Sen. Bruno Sido said to compare the SpaceX facility with the equivalent manufacturing operation of the Ariane 5 rocket, some of which is done in Les Mureaux, France, is to become fearful for the future of Europe‘s launch vehicle autonomy.

“Visiting Les Mureaux is like entering an impressive laboratory,” Sido said in a press briefing here. “Visiting SpaceX, which occupies an old factory that once belonged to Boeing, is like entering IKEA. This company has already won many contracts, is well-supported by NASA and is building a low-cost launcher that constitutes a real and serious threat.” (11/8)

NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building Prepared for Multiple Rockets (Source: Space Daily)
NASA KSC's Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport is undergoing renovations to accommodate future launch vehicles. A project of Ground Systems Development and Operations, or GSDO, space shuttle-era work platforms have been removed from the VAB's High Bay 3 and accommodations are being made to support a variety of future spacecraft, including NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket.

The changes are part of a centerwide modernization and refurbishment initiative in preparation for the next generation of human spaceflight. One of the largest buildings in the world, the VAB was constructed in the mid-1960s to support stacking of the Apollo Saturn V rockets that took American astronauts to the moon. Ivey's Construction Inc. of Merritt Island, Fla., began the task in early September. Working closely with NASA and other Kennedy contractors such as United Space Alliance and URS, as well as an on-call architectural and engineering firm BRPH. (11/8)

Global Fixed Satellite Service Market 2011-2015 (Source: SpaceRef)
TechNavio's analysts forecast the Global Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) market to grow at a CAGR of 5.1 percent over the period 2011-2015. One of the key factors contributing to this market growth is the increasing demand for TV and video transponders. The Global FSS market has also been witnessing the increasing offerings of value-enhanced services by FSS operators. However, the requirement of high CAPEX investment could pose a challenge to the growth of this market. (11/8)

NASA Commercial Partners Ensuring American Leadership in Space and New Jobs (Source: SpaceRef)
NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager Ed Mango offered the following statement upon news United Launch Alliance has selected Hensel Phelps Construction Co. of Orlando, Fla., to provide program management contractor support to ULA's efforts on NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

"One year after the Space Shuttle Program, American companies are making critical progress on modern spacecraft and rockets that will enable the next generation of human spaceflight," Mango said. "NASA's Commercial Crew Program is fostering new national capabilities for spacecraft, launch vehicles, flight operations and ground operations to achieve safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit." (11/8)

Vizada Purchase Drives Astrium Revenue Increase (Source: Space News)
PARIS — Europe’s largest space hardware and services company, Astrium, on Nov. 8 reported a 14 percent increase in revenue for the first nine months of 2012 compared to a year earlier, with Astrium Services’ purchase of mobile satellite services provider Vizada in December 2011 responsible for most of the growth. Adding Vizada, whose revenue was estimated at about $660 million for 2011, boosted Astrium Services’ revenue by 84 percent, to 1.06 billion euros ($1.23 billion), for the nine months ending Sept. 3. (11/8)

Arianespace Gives Green Light for Launch (Source: SpaceRef)
Arianespace has given the green light for the launch tomorrow of its dual payload the EUTELSAT 21B and Star One C3 satellites. It is the sixth launch of the year for the heavy lift Ariane 5. The launch window opens up at 4:05 p.m. ET and closes at 5:51 p.m. ET. (11/8)

Cape's Navy Missile Site Will Expand (Source: Florida Today)
Planning and discussion took about 16 years. But it was the push of local and state officials that persuaded the Navy to start refurbishing and updating a 1950s-era missile test complex at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport into the new Strategic Weapons System Ashore facility that prompted action. Work is under way on what will be a large missile test facility that consolidates work currently conducted by defense contractors from at least four sites around the country.

It also initially will bring dozens of military and civilian jobs to the Space Coast — some estimates saying as many as 100 within three years — and then possibly more. The construction is take place over an existing underground structure at launch complexes 25 and 29 of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where Fleet Ballistic Missile test launches were fired in the 1950s.

Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, chairwoman of Space Florida’s board, joined senior U.S. Navy and British Royal Navy leaders and Florida officials for the formal groundbreaking on what will be a $185 million facility. In August, Gov. Rick Scott announced a $5 million state contribution that helped propel the start of construction. (11/8)

Spy Sat Costs 'Unsustainable,' Warns Space Commander, But Don't Cut Budget (Source: AOL Defense)
The head of Air Force Space Command worries that tightening defense budgets and looming force structure cuts could reduce his critical space and cyber capabilities. "Because these capabilities are so vital, and the need to maintain local and global capabilities, space and cyber capability doesn't really scale well with force structure reductions," Air Force Gen. William Shelton said Wednesday. "You either maintain global coverage or you don't."

Shelton warned that producing national security satellites and the costs of launching them are "unsustainable." That limits America's abilities to replace them and increases our vulnerability should any be lost to either hostile acts or to accidents.

Shelton focused heavily on programs or proposals to reduce the cost of space assets, noting that "the satellites we currently employ are clearly technological marvels. They take years to hand build and deploy" and are "very expensive. Consequently, we build the absolute minimum number of satellites, just in time and we don't build spares." (11/7)

Rocketdyne Lays Off 100 - Mostly in San Fernando Valley (Source: Los Angeles Daily News)
About 100 employees at Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, most of whom work in the San Fernando Valley, were laid off Wednesday in response to dwindling government spending on space exploration, the company said. The layoffs were effective immediately, and 75 percent of them came at the facilities on Canoga and De Soto avenues, which employ about 1,100 people. The company has six sites across the Valley.

"The uncertain future of the space industry and current economic conditions have created an environment where we must take these steps to ensure we remain competitive," the company said in a statement. Layoffs had been expected at rocket-engine maker Rocketdyne, which is in the process of being sold to Sacramento-based GenCorp Inc. for $550 million. (11/7)

Mojave Spaceport Looks for NASA, Student Interns (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA Dryden is looking to place one of its employees at the Mojave Air and Space Port for six to 12 months to learn how the private sector space community operates. The placement would be made under a NASA program that details promising employees at companies and other organizations to give them broader business and management expertise, said Mojave spaceport CEO Stu Witt. The space agency would cover the salary of the employee while he or she is working on assignment in Mojave.

In a related development, the Mojave spaceport is looking to recruit some summer student interns. Karina Drees, the spaceport’s director of business development, will be attending the SpaceVision 2012 conference in Buffalo this week. The three-day event is being sponsored by Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS). (11/8)

Mojave Spaceport Board Shaken Up in Election (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The leadership of the East Kern Airport District (EKAD) Board of Directors, which oversees the Mojave Air and Space Port, will undergo a shakeup as a result of Tuesday’s elections. Incumbent Dick Rutan was re-elected with the highest number of votes. Incumbent Jim Balentine, a 17-year member of the board who currently serves as president, is out because he came in fourth. Challenger Allen Peterson, president and CEO of the National Test Pilot School, is in after polling second. Cathy Hansen, who resigned from the board last month for personal reasons but remained on the ballot, was re-elected for a term she will not serve. (11/8)

Budget Cuts Cripple Space Exploration (Source: Northwest Missourian)
Felix Baumgartner captivated the minds and imaginations of millions of Americans with his world record-setting space jump from over 20 miles up. Just two weeks later the first commercial cargo flight was pulled off by the SpaceX. Both of these achievements have one thing in common: the technology used was developed by NASA.

However, as of late, this once-great agency has lost its luster, primarily due to the severe budget cuts it has endured. President Obama’s proposed FY-2013 budget calls for $309 million in cuts to the former leader in the space race of the ‘60s and ‘70s. That is a 20 percent slash of funds to NASA that would have gone to future Mars exploration and other missions.

That is somber news for anyone who grew up in the “Space Age” just a few decades ago. This country used to lead the way in discovering the infinite frontier of space, eager to learn more about what else is out there. After the historic moon landing in 1969, America wondered how long would it be before we reached Mars and beyond. Unfortunately, 40 years later, we haven’t moved far from just dreaming. (11/8)

New Mexico Spaceport Announces $1.1 Million in New Construction (Source: New Mexico Business Weekly)
The New Mexico Spaceport Authority announced Wednesday that it has awarded two new contracts as part of the second phase of the Spaceport’s construction. AMEC Environment and Infrastructure Inc., of Albuquerque, was awarded the $488,969 Quality Assurance Testing Services contract. The one-year contract will include testing services for the runway extension.

SDV Construction of Albuquerque was selected to oversee and manage Phase 2 construction at the Spaceport. The company will oversee the building of the visitor experience facilities, runway extension and more. The 18-month contract is for $647,389. Phase 1 of Spaceport America is nearing completion. The first phase included the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space Terminal Hangar Facility, the Spaceport Operations Center and the surrounding infrastructure. (11/7)

EADS Quarterly Earnings Beat Forecasts (Source: Reuters)
Europe's EADS unveiled stronger-than-expected third-quarter earnings. EADS posted a 67 percent rise in third-quarter operating profit to 537 million euros on sales of 12.324 billion euros, up 15 percent, compared with average analyst forecasts of 454 million operating profit and revenues of 11.853 billion. (11/8)

Orion's 2014 Launch Date “Paced” by the Delta IV-Heavy (Source:
The first test launch of NASA’s new Orion spacecraft is currently being paced by its “surrogate” launch vehicle, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV-Heavy. The EFT-1 carrier rocket is already in production and in the launch queue, according to ULA, while the EFT-1 Orion continues to undergo outfitting operations at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport.

The launch date has slipped several times, with the latest September, 2014 target confirmed at the latest meeting of NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) – conducted at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston. “EFT-1 remains on schedule for September 2014. The pacing element for this flight is the surrogate launch vehicle; the capsule itself is well on the path to testing,” noted the meeting’s minutes.

The ASAP comments do appear to match notes acquired earlier in the year, which also pointed a finger at the Delta IV-H, as opposed to the EFT-1 Orion, as the main scheduling item. However, ULA claimed they were on track for the previous spring launch date for EFT-1. (11/8)

Alien 'Super-Earth' Planet May Be Habitable, Astronomers Say (Source: Huffington Post)
Astronomers have detected an alien planet that may be capable of supporting life as we know it — and it's just a stone's throw from Earth in the cosmic scheme of things. The newfound exoplanet, a so-called "super-Earth" called HD 40307g, is located inside its host star's habitable zone, a just-right range of distances where liquid water may exist on a world's surface. And the planet lies a mere 42 light-years away from Earth, meaning that future telescopes might be able to image it directly, researchers said. (11/8)

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