February 18, 2014

ULA Keeps Lockheed Space Profit Up as Revenue Declines in 2013 (Source: Space News)
Lockheed Martin expects lower revenue and sharply lower operating profit at its Space Systems division in 2014 on reduced military satellite sales and a hefty restructuring charge following the company’s plant shutdowns and workforce reductions. The company said the Space Systems division posted record operating earnings in 2013 in part because of increased income from its 50 percent share of United Launch Alliance (ULA).

ULA accounted for 29 percent of Lockheed Martin Space Systems’ operating profit in 2013, contributing $300 million in cash, up 13 percent from 2012, Lockheed said in a Feb. 14 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). (2/18)

NASA Buildings Still Sit Idle in Ohio One Year After Sale (Source: Cleveland.com)
Nothing much has changed physically at the site of two former NASA buildings in the past year. Avon businessman Jim Gallagher and his brother, Marty, represent a group of local investors who bought the Brookpark Road buildings after the 50-year-old structures sat vacant for years.

They paid $1.2 million for the 9-acre parcel that sits across from Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport. Multiple sources have indicated, however, the property is up for sale, although the owner says that's only one option. "People from all over the country have been looking at the property, from companies with 500 to 1,000 jobs to as few as 30 to 40 jobs," Gallagher said. "We're willing to do anything we can to get active bodies in there, from subdividing to renovating, so people could run (their businesses) and occupy the buildings right now." (2/18)

Texas Petition Condemns SpaceX "Hype" on Spaceport Impacts (Source: El Rrun Rrun)
After reading the SpaceX Environmental Impact Statement, we learn that there will not be 600 jobs after all. In fact, if Musk gets enough "incentives" from Texas, Cameron County and the BEDC ($15 million so far) that will compete with the incentives from other states, there will be a total of 30 jobs to start in 2014 and will reach a peak of 150 in 2022. This includes permanent SpaceX employees and contractors. That's quite a comedown from 600, isn't it?

And for that they are asking the public to restrict its access to Boca Chica Beach at least 12 times, halt ship traffic at the Port of Brownsville and the Intercoastal Waterway, and expose the beach and its habitat and species to monthly blasts. Launches need perfect weather, and are often delayed. The beach may be closed multiple times per month for a single mission. As for the eight acres SpaceX boosters say will only be affected, think again. They will fence 20 acres bordered by a 7-foot wide access road for security. Most of the land within the fence lines will be disturbed at some point.

We need to be clear about this. SpaceX is not going to be launching manned craft or otherwise for NASA from Boca Chica. It is a strictly private money-making endeavor to service commercial enterprises. No, children, we will not go to the International Space Station, the moon, to Mars, or any other planet from Boca Chica. Brownsville was rejected as a site in 1961 because the flight path to launch to any of these places went over populated areas such as Florida and Cuba. It still does. Click here. (2/14)

Virginia Aerospace Days Leads to Senate Joint Resolutions, Budget Support (Source: Spaceports Blog)
The 9th Annual Aerospace Day in Richmond, Virginia, included meetings with legislators and an evening reception at the Library of Virginia with more than 50 NASA and aerospace industry exhibits. Contact teams reached over half of the state's legislators to promote aerospace and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. The events featured NASA astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger.

Two resolutions were offered by Virginia State Senator Bill Carrico (R-Grayson County) and State Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-Scott County)  relating to student space science activities in Wise County and Norton, Virginia (Senate Joint Resolution No. 141) and the recent efforts of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (Senate Joint Resolution No. 142). Other legislators offered their support to expanding the spaceport budget in the next fiscal year. (2/13)

Asteroid 2000 EM26 Whizzes by Earth (Source: Function Space)
Earth had a close encounter on Monday 17 February 2014 (EST) evening as an asteroid as big as three football fields (measuring 270 meters) whizzed by at 27,000 mph. Fortunately, the asteroid was never a threat, it missed our planet by 2.6 million kilometer distance or 0.018 Astronomical Unit (AU). (2/18)

Head of Baikonur Resigns (Source: Tengri News)
Evgeniy Anissimov, Head of Baikonur cosmodrome, has resigned. According to an unidentified source, Mr. Anissimov was called to Moscow to meet Oleg Ostapenko, Head of Russia’s Roskosmos National Space Agency. He arrived for the appointment; however, there were no actual talks. Reportedly he was suggested to resign. Ms. Irina Zubareva, spokeswoman of the Roskosmos Head, confirmed his resignation. She elaborated the decision “was taken for personal reasons”. (2/18)

Boom in Finding Dwarf Planets May Be Over (Source: Scientific American)
For decades Pluto was the undisputed heavyweight champion in the far reaches of the outer solar system. Now astronomers know that the beloved world is just one of many known dwarf planets, most of which orbit the sun out beyond Neptune.

The discoveries that led to Pluto's demotion from planet to dwarf planet arrived in a rapid burst that peaked about a decade ago. Between 2002 and 2007 astronomer Mike Brown and his colleagues discovered several major objects, including the dwarf planets Eris, Makemake and Haumea (although another group also claims credit for Haumea). Since that flurry of activity, the discovery of large objects in the outer solar system has stalled, even though Brown's group left broad swaths of the sky unsearched. (2/18)

A Code of Conduct for Space (Source: The Diplomat)
Since the former Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957, more than six thousand satellites have been placed in space. The world has arguably become overly dependent on satellite technologies, for everything from communications and navigation through education to meteorology and military applications. The outer space environment has become increasingly congested, contested and competitive as a result.

However, increased space situational awareness (SSA) capabilities are not useful without the means to interdict, prevent or mitigate space infrastructure risk. SSA is not a panacea, and the dual-use applications for military and civilian use only add another layer of complexity to the equation. The unwillingness of states to reveal all information about exact orbits and their future maneuvers will limit SSA co-operation.

There is, however, a unique regional opportunity to develop an Asia-Pacific SSA mechanism, building on existing momentum and investment in space activities by Asia-Pacific nations. Other surveillance efforts, such as disease surveillance, that provide early warning so that interventions can be developed, offer examples of how information about space activities could be shared;  regional SSA hubs could share [and validate] their data in a clearinghouse. Click here. (2/18)

Lighter Satellites a Headache for Arianespace (Source: Space Daily)
Arianespace rockets excel at lifting the heaviest payloads into space, but a new technology allowing for lighter satellites is causing another big bang for an already fast-changing industry. The number one commercial launch operator, Arianespace is under intense pressure from a new slate of lower-priced rivals, including SpaceX. But now lighter-load electric propulsion used by satellites once in space is also attacking the company's hold on the business.

Also known as ion or plasma engines, in 2012 US aerospace giant Boeing was the first to commercially offer a satellite engine that uses electricity from solar panels for thrust. Most satellite makers followed suit in 2013. While the thrust is weaker than chemical propelled engines, thus taking months instead of weeks to move a satellite after its launch to its final orbit, it uses much less propellant. This can cut a satellite's launch weight by half, allowing it to be lifted by less powerful rockets, thus lowering costs and creating an opportunity for rivals. (2/18)

An Early 2014 Surprise - Arianespace Needs More Money (Source: Space Daily)
It is exceedingly difficult to make a profit in an industry that spends so much money. And it is amazing that so many think they can make money providing launch services to so few customers. A quick look around the world reveals there are dozens of launch vehicle families vying for the few sales that occur.

Lo and behold, Arianespace now finds itself faced with another financial dilemma. Not only is the European launch company feeling the pressure of competition from the new U.S. startup, SpaceX, but the Euro/dollar exchange rate is also forcing a request for more subsidies to shore up support for Ariane 5 operations at its Guiana Space Center in Kourou. (2/18)

Voyager, the Space Triumph that Nearly Wasn't (Source: LA Times)
The Voyager 1 spacecraft is the first human-made object to venture into interstellar space. Even if defined only by distance, the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory twin Voyagers are America's greatest space adventure. They've been flying successfully for more than 36 years and are billions of miles from home. What isn't widely known is that they almost never made it out there.

The first proposed mission in the late 1960s was for four spacecraft to take advantage of a rare alignment of the four outer planets of the solar system; Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune would all be on the same side of the sun. However, in December 1971, NASA decided it couldn't afford the $1-billion price tag for a 12-year "grand tour" mission with four spacecraft.

This alignment happens only every 176 years, and the next launch opportunity was just five years away, in 1977. To avoid missing the opportunity, JPL engineers quickly devised a plan to send two simpler spacecraft on four-year flights to Jupiter and Saturn, with the hope of continuing on to Uranus and Neptune. (2/18)

Meet NASA's Enormous Rocket Transporter (Source: Weather Channel)
Before a rocket can get into space, it has to get to its launch pad. But moving 12 million pounds’ worth of spaceship requires a whole lot more than your average truck, which is why, in the 1960s, NASA built a 6.5 million-pound behemoth of a vehicle, known as the crawler transporter. Now it’s getting an upgrade.

NASA’s two crawlers got the space agency through the Apollo program and the space shuttle era, trudging across the Kennedy Space Center complex at a speed of about a mile per hour. At about 26 feet high, it towers over the other vehicles (and humans) that move with it along the road to the launch site — this was particularly obvious when it carried the Saturn V rocket, itself taller than the Statue of Liberty. Click here. (2/17)

Boeing's CST-100 Passes Two New Milestones (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
The Boeing Company recently announced the completion of more developmental requirements for their Crew Space Transportation 100(CST-100)-100 spacecraft that includes a software safety test and hardware design review. Passing this phase of testing is considered a milestone for a company that is competing to return flights of astronauts from U.S soil in the coming years.

Boeing’s current phase of testing is the Critical Design Review (CDR), which included system analysis of their Launch Vehicle Adapter (LVA) that will connect the CST-100 spacecraft to the rocket that will take it into orbit. This CDR testing was performed to establish the flight stability of the LVA in a wind tunnel and verified that Boeing’s design is applicable for production. Click here. (2/17)

Cygnus Cargo Ship Prepares for Departure From Space Station (Source: America Space)
After more than a month at the Space Station, Orbital Sciences Corp. will bring its ORB-1 Cygnus cargo ship back to Earth with a fiery Viking-like funeral this week. Unberthing from the Earth-facing (or “nadir”) port of the station’s Harmony node is scheduled to take place at 5:30 a.m. EST on 18 February, with Expedition 38 crewmen Mike Hopkins and Koichi Wakata controlling the 57.7-foot-long Canadarm2 robotic arm.

The Cygnus vehicle, named in honor of former shuttle astronaut C. Gordon Fullerton—who died last August—is due to be released into free flight by Canadarm2 at 6:40 a.m. EST, after which it will be maneuvered into a “disposal corridor,” preparatory to its seven-minute de-orbit “burn” Wednesday morning. (2/17)

Angara Mockup Installed on Plesetsk Cosmodrome’s Launch Pad (Source: Itar-Tass)
A mockup of Russia’s new Angara carrier rocket was taken out of the assembly shop at the northern Plesetsk Cosmodrome and installed in the launch pad area. Angara is one of the priorities in the development of the Plesetsk spaceport. In November 2013, a full-scale mockup of the rocket was for the first time put up at the launch pad. It was a fully operational rocket but intended for ground testing only, not for launching. (2/17)

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