October 15, 2013

Furloughed NASA Employees Protest Shutdown (Source: Bay Area Citizen)
Several dozen furloughed NASA employees and supporters from various government agencies held an anti-government shutdown rally along NASA Parkway in front of Johnson Space Center on Tuesday morning, day 15 of the shutdown.

“We want to bring awareness that federal employees want to work,” said Bridget Broussard-Guidry, president of Local 2284 NASA/JSC chapter of American Federation of Government Employees. “We don’t want to be furloughed. We provide a service to the American people and we want to continue to provide that service. End the shutdown now. Bring a vote to the floor to re-open the government.”

NASA has been hit hard, with more than 90 percent of its workforce impacted. Of its 3,200 civil servant employees, only 93 ‘essential’ personnel, those working directly on operations with the International Space Station, are exempt from the furlough. (10/15)

Russia Conducts Tests on Soyuz Replacement Spacecraft (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Under the project of the New-Generation Advanced Manned Transportation Spacecraft, tests have been run at S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation, Energia to try out crew activities during ingress into and emergency escape from command compartment of the reentry vehicle.

The tests were run using the reentry vehicle layout mockup and included the operations of settling the crew in the command compartment, as well as an emergency escape from the command compartment on the launch pad, and an unassisted egress from the reentry vehicle after its landing on solid ground outside its designated landing area. (10/15)

Caribbean Space Summit Planned in Puerto Rico (Source: NSS)
CSS2014​ is a summit about commercial space travel, to be held in the Caribbean, which will have special speakers as well as interactive discussions and programs with attendees. We will talk about space exploration, discuss space travel and its benefits to our society. The event is planned for April 11-12, 2014. Click here. (10/15)

Why is ISRO Chairman Mum on China's Space Program? (Source: ZeeNews)
After the postponement of GSLV launch on August 19, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) wants to instil confidence in itself about its seriousness in carrying out missions to the outer world. The next best opportunity for them is Mission Mars. Slated for launch on October 28, ISRO is hoping to redeem its pride and give the sense of joy to countrymen in general. ISRO has been having a roller coaster ride in its missions. Some fire and some misfire.

Instead of getting answers from the ISRO chairman, we have got more questions from one of India's most prestigious organisations. Why is ISRO chief afraid or reluctant to answer any question on China? Is he afraid? Why so? Isn't he answerable and accountable to every tax-payer Indian? Questions will be asked when missions worth hundreds of crores of rupees fail. (10/14)

Row Over NASA's China Ban Should be Wake-Up Call (Source: Global Times)
The row over a decision by US space agency NASA to ban Chinese researchers from a forthcoming conference on exoplanet research should be served as a wake-up call for some US legislators, a US expert said. The rejection based on a controversial law, initially crafted in 2011 by Congresssman Frank Wolf, sparked a boycott from several prominent American scientists.

"Congressman Wolf may finally be waking up to the unintended negative consequences of his actions," said Gregory Kulacki, a senior analyst with the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists' Global Security Program. "But until the legislation he insisted on injecting into US disputes over the federal budget is removed, these kinds of incidents will remain a constant feature of US-China relations in space," he said. (10/15)

Space Agencies Push for Deep Space Cooperation (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
With the International Space Station (ISS) in its 12th year of occupation, space agencies are looking to model the Station’s success in future missions to beyond Earth orbit (BEO) destinations. Many components needed for NASA’s envisioned BEO missions are still merely conceptual, allowing the possibility of international cooperation in developing them.

While international space cooperation has advanced steadily since the dawn of human spaceflight, international space efforts were devoid of a central coordinating body until 2007 when the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG) was founded by 14 of the world’s national space agencies. Under the ISECG umbrella, space agencies plan to increase international collaboration in space exploration and emphasize international missions to Beyond Earth Orbit (BEO) destinations. (10/14)

Astronauts See Strange Cloud in Space from Missile Launch (Source: Space.com)
Astronauts on the International Space Station have beamed home photos of an eerie space cloud outside their orbital home, a strange sight apparently created by a recent missile launch. Click here. (10/14)

Making Mars Exploration SAFER (Source: Guardian)
There's always an air of calm about a space mission control room. It's akin to a library but with computers instead of books. The same hushed conversations take place, the same quiet focus. For those seeing one for the first time, it can be a surprise because it is a far cry from the Hollywood control room of frantic activity and slack-jawed gawping. Give it time, however, and the undercurrent of quiet excitement seeps into you. Click here. (10/15)

Government Shutdown Ripples Out to Work on Orion Capsule (Source: Space News)
Engineers preparing NASA’s Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle for a 2014 test flight were locked out of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida when the federal government shut down Oct. 1, but prime contractor Lockheed Martin is trying to get them back on the job, the company’s top civil space executive said Oct. 8.

“We’re holding [off on that work], of course, because of the challenges with the government shutdown,” saud Jim Crocker, vice president and general manager for civil space at Lockheed Martin. So far, Crocker said, it does not appear that the work stoppage will delay the mission, scheduled for September 2014 and known officially as Exploration Flight Test-1. However, Crocker cautioned, “This [shutdown] can’t go on forever and not have a significant impact.” (10/14)

Orbital Sciences Sues ULA and Virginia (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
When NASA surprised many observers in 2006 by inviting private commercial companies to develop space vehicles for low earth orbit missions (the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services contract – COTS), it triggered a level of competitive forces that had not been seen in the space flight industry.

Companies scrambled to create partnerships and corner scarce resources that would enable them to compete. Manifestations of the fierceness of the competition that is emerging include two recent lawsuits that have been recently filed by prominent space and missile defense company Orbital Sciences Corporation. Click here. (10/14)

MSU Student Hopes NASA Will Heed Call for Manned Mission to Saturn Moon (Source: MSU)
When Montana State University engineering student Andrew Crawford says he would like to take the world along on a voyage to land human beings on the ice-encrusted Saturn moon Enceladus, he’s not kidding. While in Beijing last month for the semiannual International Astronautical Congress, Crawford presented his case for putting Enceladus atop the list of places to explore for life in the solar system.

He debated fellow would-be space pioneers who favored other destinations, such as the moon, Mars or an interstellar asteroid. Crawford was in China after being chosen by the Paris-based IAC to join a six-person international panel called “Destination Next.”

Former NASA Managers Call for More Spending Despite Crunch (Source: Space News)
In the middle of a budget crisis that has kept the federal government partially closed since Oct. 1, former NASA officials argued that the time has come to push for increased spending on space exploration. “Our community has to fight for a reinvigorated space program, even when budgets are tight,” said Doug Cooke, who was NASA’s associate administrator for exploration systems when he retired from the agency in 2011.

Among those who spoke at the von Braun symposium was one of Constellation’s chief architects, former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin. Griffin, who ran NASA from 2005 to 2009, scoffed at the idea that NASA is operating in a budget-constrained environment. “We are in a willpower-constrained environment,” said Griffin, who is now the Huntsville-based chairman of Schafer Corp. Griffin noted that 50 years of NASA spending, adjusted for inflation, was approximately equivalent to the roughly $800 billion stimulus bill signed into law in February 2009.  

Meanwhile, Cooke and another former NASA manager took shots at the “flat-is-the-new-up” mantra that has become prevalent among government-relations executives in Washington in the age of across-the-board sequestration budget cuts. “Flat is not healthy,” said David King, who left his job as director of the Marshall Space Flight Center in 2009 to join Dynetics Inc. (10/14)

Iran May Launch Another Monkey Into Space Soon (Source: Space.com)
Iran is planning to launch another monkey into space soon, according to media reports. An Iranian newspaper reported that the Islamic Republic aims to blast a monkey into space sometime in the next month, according to the French news agency AFP. The liftoff would help advance the nation's stated plans to put a human in space by 2018, Iranian officials said. (10/14)

Editorial: The Essential Revolution of the NRO (Source: Space News)
It is time for a revolution. Organizations, from companies to entire civilizations, go through the same predictable cycle of evolution. The key attribute is always the culture. The cycle begins with a strong leader in charge with loyal followers who have a shared belief, and as it grows it passes through a period of shared principles and processes, and it declines as rules are imposed from the top, without a shared vision or loyal connection with the workers.  

The U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and its culture may fit the same pattern of evolution. If Miller is right, it may be time to reinvent the organization. It is time for a dedicated workforce to help restore the esprit de corps and loyalty around the mission, and a return of the authority and control of the mission to the NRO and its director. Click here. (10/14)

Industry Officials Call for Dedicated Funding for Hosted Payloads (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force has warmed to the idea that placing military payloads aboard commercial satellites is a low-cost way to field new capabilities, but the service has yet to commit the funding that will bring out the best concepts from aerospace companies, a group of industry officials said Oct. 9.

the Air Force has taken concrete steps toward leveraging hosted payload opportunities. But they also said the service — and more importantly Congress — have yet to fully integrate hosted payloads into future planning. Nicole Robinson, vice president of communications and government affairs for SES Government Solutions of McLean, Va., said industry leaders needed to remind Congress that hosted payloads are not one-off, one-time programs but instead should be viewed as a key component of programs that will require consistent long-term funding. (10/14)

China to Mark 10 Years of Manned Spaceflight (Source: Economic Times)
China marks 10 years since it first sent a human into space tomorrow, with its ambitious program rocketing ahead while rival NASA is largely closed due to the US government shutdown. Yang Liwei orbited the Earth 14 times during his 21-hour flight aboard the Shenzhou 5 in 2003. More than 40 years after Yuri Gagarin's groundbreaking journey, the mission made China only the third country after the former Soviet Union and the US to carry out an independent manned spaceflight. (10/14)

Shutdown’s Effect on Three Commercial Crew Companies Varies (Source: Space News)
The three firms competing to become NASA’s post-shuttle provider of astronaut transportation services under the agency’s Commercial Crew Program reported different impacts from an ongoing partial government shutdown that has furloughed NASA civil servants authorized to pay these companies for completing development milestones. Click here. (10/14)

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