March 12, 2014

Space Day Takes Off At State Capitol (Source: WMFE)
Aerospace industry representatives will meet with lawmakers in Tallahassee Wednesday to lobby for continued support for the industry. Space Day at the state capitol features space related exhibits, and an appearance by former NASA Astronaut and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Crippen.

Space Florida’s Chief of Strategic Alliance Dale Ketcham, says it’s important the industry has support from lawmakers now - when other states are also competing for business. "I think if there is a unique message coming out of Space Day, it’s that other states are very much after what we have.  What Florida had in the past is not our birthright, we’re going to have to continue to compete,” said Ketcham.

"You know, we’re going to have to fight to keep this business.  That’s the primary message we’re taking to Tallahassee and they are usually very good at rising to the occasion and providing the state with the resources to compete.” One company Florida wants to see set up a commercial space port in the state is SpaceX. SpaceX is looking at locations in both Florida and Texas for their new permanent facility. Florida currently has over twenty thousand aerospace companies creating nineteen billion dollars in revenue. (3/11)

No Big Incentive Push for SpaceX (Source: SPACErePORT)
With Texas out in front in the race for SpaceX's commercial launch site, I had expected that the ongoing Florida Legislative Session might present an opportunity for the Sunshine State to craft a package of incentives for SpaceX to expand at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport (which includes Shiloh) instead of heading west. But during Florida Space Day I have seen no signs that such a package is being considered. (3/12)

Space Florida's Space Tourism Marketing Plan (Source: NASA Watch)
"Space Florida's objective for the space tourism marketing appropriation is to define and develop the scope of space tourism throughout the state of Florida. Breaking the plan into three phases will allow us to address the different needs and goals of the aerospace industry. Each stage of this plan includes specific tactics with messaging relevant to the targeted demographic, as well as built in opportunities to measure reach, effectiveness and the return on investment of each individual tactic."

Editor's Note: The Florida Legislature last year included a recurring appropriation of $1.5 million for Space Florida to promote space tourism. But this isn't focused (at least solely) on spaceflight activities. The money is more targeted at increasing the number of visitors to attractions like the KSC Visitor Complex. The Governor's Office put some strict guidelines on how the money can be spent, in ways meant to measurably increase tourism visitation to the state. Click here. (3/12)

New KSC Visitor Complex Ad Unveiled (Source: Space KSC)
A new ad for the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex aired nationally Sunday night during the premiere of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. The ad was produced by the Mountain View Group which has offices in Atlanta and New York. Click here to watch. (3/12)

Florida Aerospace Advocacy Group Dissolves on Space Day (Source: SPACErePORT)
The Florida Aviation Aerospace Alliance (FAAA), a group formed over a decade ago to support aviation and aerospace industry development through advocacy in Tallahassee, filed for dissolution on March 12. Being relatively inactive for the past few years, the FAAA might otherwise have been dissolved years ago, if it weren't included in Florida Statutes as having a role in supporting Enterprise Florida on aerospace issues. (3/12)

Shuttle Landing Facility Could Use Some Funding (Source: SPACErePORT)
As NASA and Space Florida continue their slow-moving negotiations on transfer of the Shuttle Landing Facility, some potential users and legislators in Tallahassee are seeking state funds to help prepare the facility for potential users, including Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser, Boeing's Air Force orbital spaceplane, Stratolaunch's huge 747-based carrier vehicle and rocket, Swiss Space Systems' carrier vehicle and spaceplane, Starfighters' space jets, RocketCrafters' hypersonic spaceplanes, Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnight Two and Spaceship Two, XCOR's Lynx, Generation Orbit's air-launch system, and others.

Although this is not part of Space Florida's funding request, some legislators suggested adding up to $2.5 million to the agency's budget for this worthy cause. Editor's Note: This and other Tallahassee legislative issues are being tracked here by the Florida Space Development Council (FSDC). (3/12)

SpaceX Roundup: One Falcon 9 Set for Launch, Another Arrives in Texas (Source: Waco Tribune)
It's a busy week at SpaceX and aboard the International Space Station, with one Falcon 9 rocket preparing to launch a Dragon cargo ship to the station from Florida early Sunday and another Falcon 9 just arrived at SpaceX's McGregor site for testing.

SpaceX is remaining mum as usual, but it's an extremely good bet that a rumble heard in southern Waco around noon Tuesday, lasting about a minute, was a SpaceX test, and a not-bad bet that it was the F9 set to launch eight Orbcomm OG2 satellites as early as late April. That rocket left the SpaceX factory in Hawthorne, Calif., late on March 5, according to tweets by SpaceX employees. (3/11)

How NASA Can Learn From its Apollo Marketing Push (Source: Forbes)
The authors of "Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program," say the first success NASA experienced with Apollo was convincing the American public that the moon landing was worth the expense, and that it can learn lessons today from what it did in the past.

"Apollo was NASA's Super Bowl event – targeted, scheduled, and sustained, with enough global interest to draw a big audience-share in a world with less media and communication choice," Jurek says. "From a marketing perspective, NASA is involved in so many areas, that there is no unified theme that pulls a large enough focused audience. It is a challenge many marketers face in many industries." (3/12)

NextGen Program to Face Challenges Under President's FY15 Budget (Source: AIA)
A number of important FAA programs face challenges under the President's fiscal year 2015 budget request. In particular, the Next Generation Air Transportation System modernization program is entering several critical years of development and deployment of new technologies, and today's budget release highlights several notable areas of concern. (3/12)

NASA Wants Laser Comm for TDRS Follow-on, Needs Industry Money First (Source: Space News)
NASA is turning to industry for help funding laser-communications technology the agency hopes one day to use in the space-based, data-relay system that keeps Earth-orbiting spacecraft in touch with the ground. In 2012, NASA said it would invest $230 million into a Laser Communication Relay Demonstration payload, including a $3 million contract with Loral to host the NASA-built hardware aboard a geostationary satellite.

Now, the project is hurting for cash and must be restructured “to encourage the greater involvement of industry, including industry investments and program partnerships,” NASA wrote in a 700-page budget justification document. In the meantime, the agency plans to start buying modems, lasers and controllers required for ground-based laser-communications tests slated for later this year. (3/12)

ArianespaceReady to Compete in an Open U.S. Market for Government Payloads (Source: SpaceRef)
Arianespace has called for an opening of the U.S. government market to international launch services competition, with the company ready to bid for such opportunities. Chairman & CEO Stéphane Israël said European governments have held competitions for civil and military satellites in which non-European launch services companies have openly competed and won contracts.

“Unfortunately, it is not completely open here in the United States – and Arianespace is fully ready to compete in the institutional markets everywhere – including the U.S.,” he said.  “We are quite sure we would be in a position to offer the best solutions for customers and the taxpayers. And if it comes to a question of employment, we are ready to see how we can ‘Americanize’ our launcher.”

Editor's Note: Does "Americanize" mean they would bring the rocket to the Cape Canaveral Spaceport for launch? (3/12)

Italy and U.S. Sign Agreement on Commercial Aerospace Flights (Source: SpaceRef)
The President of Italy's National Civilian Aviation Agency (ENAC) and the Administrator of the FAA signed a memorandum of cooperation on commercial aerospace flights. The agreement will make it possible to set in motion collaboration to define the standards for civilian use of mid- and suborbital vehicles, such as space shuttles, including for the transport of passengers and cargo.

“Italy is the first country to sign an agreement with the United States in the area of commercial use of space resources, observed Italy's Ambassador, “confirming its position in the vanguard of this field.” “We are drawing closer to the capability for commercial access to the immense resources outside the atmosphere and this same technology will also significantly reduce the link times between States and continents,” noted Col. Roberto Vittori, Space Affairs Attaché at the Embassy of Italy in Washington. (3/12)

Google X: Secret Lab for 'Moonshot' Research (Source: Phys.Org)
Google Inc. CEO Larry Page once suggested the tech industry needs "safe places where we can try out new things" without rules or interference. Some people thought he was describing a futuristic fantasy, perhaps a remote desert island where robots roam free. But Page already has the next best thing in Google X, the secretive skunk works where company scientists get plenty of resources and free rein to work on things like self-driving cars, Internet-connected balloons and flying power generators.

"They're doing a lot of incredibly weird stuff," said Rob Enderle, analyst at the Enderle Group, "but they're rolling in money." Google made $13 billion profit on $60 billion in sales last year, mostly from online ads. "That gives them a lot of latitude in what they invest in."

While the X division is housed in two nondescript office buildings near Google's main campus, it's been compared to "Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory" by the man who runs it on a daily basis. Eric "Astro" Teller, an entrepreneur and scientist who reports to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, once described his staff as "Peter Pans with Ph.D.s." Click here. (3/12)

Yuri's Night Contest Promises Space Prizes for Cosmic Party-Starters (Source:
You could win some space swag just by throwing a party next month. Space lovers around the world are getting ready to revel in the excitement of human spaceflight on Yuri's Night, April 12. This year, the celebration's organizers will hold a "catalyst" competition, promising to give out prizes for a host and a catalyst that spark awesome cosmic parties. Click here. (3/11)

Garriott: Space Is the Open Frontier (Source: Huffington Post)
My dream of spaceflight began at a young age. With my father being a NASA astronaut, and most all my near neighbors being either astronauts or rocket scientists, that's not too hard to fathom. But the gap between thinking you would like to go to space and arranging for such a trip is vast! Click here. (3/11)

Dream Chaser Spacecraft Will Boost Alabama's Space Business (Source: Huntsville Times)
Alabama’s space future got a boost today when one of America’s best-known space companies – Sierra Nevada Corp. - announced a larger presence in the state and new partnerships with NASA and private space contractors here. “We’re using Huntsville and Alabama as a focal point for what we’re going to be doing in the science and payload capability of our missions,” Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of SNC’s Space Systems, said. (3/11)

Editorial: Shorten Dependence on Russia for Spaceflights (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
It's been almost three years since the U.S. lost the capability to blast astronauts into orbit when the space-shuttle program ended. Congress hasn't made restoring that capability a priority. If lawmakers aren't kicking themselves now for their myopia, they should be. That's because the only way for U.S. astronauts to reach the $100 billion International Space Station — U.S. taxpayers covered about half that investment — is by hitching rides, at $70 million a seat, on Russian rockets.

And with relations strained between the two countries over Russia seizing territory from its neighbor, Ukraine, Washington's dependence on Moscow is looking increasingly unwise and untenable. Last week NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden insisted that the crisis over Ukraine had not affected a productive relationship between the U.S. space agency and its Russian counterpart. But if tensions keep escalating — President Obama and Congress are talking about punishing Russia with strong sanctions — who knows what will happen to bilateral cooperation on space? (3/11)

DARPA Hopes To Build Plug-In Satellites In Space (Source: Breaking Defense)
Imagine self-healing satellites built in space. One sensor breaks down and another sensor elsewhere on the satellite takes up the slack. And the satellites are launched in modular pieces, on a series of different rockets, then are assembled by a robot arm in orbit. Parts can be replaced. The satellite can be refueled to prolong its operational life. This isn’t yet the space dock servicing the USS Enterprise, but it may mark the first steps toward such a capability.

It’s the stuff of science fiction and, as often happens, DARPA is the place experimenting with the new technologies and concepts of operations to make it real. Since the program, known as Phoenix, is expected to consume a tiny $40 million to $50 million this year (in its third year), don’t expect miracles any time soon. Click here. (3/11)

NASA Orbiter Safe After Unplanned Computer Swap (Source: NASA JPL)
NASA's long-lived Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter put itself into a precautionary safe standby mode March 9 after an unscheduled swap from one main computer to another. The mission's ground team has begun restoring the spacecraft to full operations. "We have stepped up the communication data rate, and we plan to have the spacecraft back to full operations within a few days." (3/11)

Cheerleaders' Experiment to Grow Space History One Microbe at a Time (Source: Collect Space)
A very, very (very) small sample from John Glenn's 1962 Mercury capsule "Friendship 7" is set to launch to the International Space Station as part of an experiment organized by professional cheerleaders. The microbial spacecraft sample — literally, the bacteria Pantoea eucrina — is among 48 microbes swabbed from a variety of historical places (like the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum) and sports stadiums that will be compared for the rate at which they grow in space.

The swabbing was led by Science Cheerleader, a group of current and former NFL and NBA cheerleaders pursuing careers in science and technology. The organization plays off public stereotypes to encourage participation in citizen science activities. The Project MERCCURI (or Microbial Ecology Research Combining Citizen and University Researchers) payload is launching on SpaceX's third Dragon spacecraft to resupply the space station for NASA. (3/11)

Ukraine Poses No Threat to Russian Rocket Engine Imports (Source: Reuters)
The crisis in Ukraine has not jeopardized the longstanding relationship between the U.S. Air Force and the Russian company that builds engines for the rockets used to launch large U.S. government satellites, a U.S. official said. "We are monitoring very closely the current bilateral situation to make sure that we can protect that supply," said Air Force Undersecretary Eric Fanning. "I have not seen anything on either side suggesting that supply is in jeopardy."

The RD 180 rocket engines are used by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co to power the venture's Atlas V rockets. Fanning told reporters the Air Force had enough of the engines, which have been built exclusively by Russia's NPO Energomash since 2002, to support launches of military and intelligence satellites well into 2016. (3/11)

U.S. Air Force Looking to Revamp, Cut Costs of Space Programs (Source: Reuters)
To tackle a rising demand for space-based surveillance in an era of flat budgets, the U.S. military is looking at smaller satellites, cheaper rockets and partnerships, the head of Air Force Space Command said on Tuesday. "Status quo is just not going to work for us," General William Shelton said in a speech to the National Space Club Florida Committee in Cape Canaveral.

The Pentagon is requesting $496 billion for the 2015 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. The spending plan, which is essentially flat for the third consecutive year, cancels two Lockheed Martin Corp Advanced Extremely High Frequency Satellites, saving $2.1 billion, and defers two Lockheed next-generation Global Positioning System satellites, among other cuts. (3/11)

Shelton: U.S. Must Respond to Military Threats in Space (Source: Florida Today)
The nation must commit to protecting and improving military spacecraft critical to future conflicts amid growing threats and budget pressure, the head of Air Force Space Command said. "We as a nation have to decide how we're going to respond to the threats that we see coming down the pike in space," Gen. William Shelton told the National Space Club Florida Committee's monthly meeting.

"It's a very complex and increasingly contested environment, and we've got to respond." Shelton congratulated the Space Coast, particularly United Launch Alliance, on its contribution to an "unprecedented" string of 68 consecutive successful national security launches. He said SpaceX has completed one of three missions needed to earn certification to compete for national security launches, and the Air Force was waiting on data for two more launches.

But he said SpaceX's success launching food and other cargo to the International Space Station for NASA – another is planned early this Sunday from Cape Canaveral – was not the same level of importance as national security satellites. "That doesn't represent the catastrophic loss much like a national security payload failure would represent a significant loss to the nation," he said. "So there's a big difference." (3/11)

NASA Administrator to See SLS Progress (Source: SpaceRef)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will get a firsthand look at the work being done on the Space Launch System (SLS) avionics and flight software during a visit Friday, March 14 to the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. (3/11)

Lockheed Martin Introduces “Refund Or Reflight” Launch Service Program (Source: Lockheed Martin)
Lockheed Martin has introduced the industry’s first – and only – 100 percent space launch vehicle “refund or reflight” program, to protect customers in the event of a total launch vehicle malfunction. The program also provides partial refunds for partial malfunctions, and applies to all future non-U.S. government contracts.

“Our customers expect superior service and can’t afford anything less than 100 percent mission success,” said Robert R. Cleave, president and chairman of the board of LMCLS. “Our Atlas launch vehicle has an unparalleled track record of reliability and performance. With the addition of this program, we’re offering customers complete peace of mind.” (3/11)

ILS To Get Fewer Launches in 2014 (Source: Space News)
International Launch Services (ILS) expects four or five commercial Proton launch campaigns this year, compared with seven in 2013, as demand for Russian government launches, not handled by ILS, consumes most of the rocket’s 10-launch manifest this year.

ILS's Phil Slack  declined to speculate on what satellites might make it onto the commercial manifest in 2014, saying it depends in part on whether the planned Russian government satellites are on schedule. He specifically said ILS is talking with Inmarsat about the second of two planned Inmarsat Global Xpress satellites and its place on the manifest. (3/11)

Lockheed Martin Achieves Breakthrough In Robotics For Space Exploration (Source: SpaceRef)
In a breakthrough that will help make it possible for astronauts and robots to work together in deep space, researchers at the Lockheed Martin, working with astronauts aboard the Space Station, have demonstrated coordinated control of robots in space by astronauts in space and operators on the ground.

The breakthrough is the first-ever demonstration of such collaborative tele-operations. The maneuvers create new opportunities to extend the reach of human and robotic missions in Earth orbit and beyond. Remote commanding of robots in space, or tele-operation, poses several unique challenges. Commands and telemetry can take one to three seconds to travel between space and the ground via satellite relays, forcing remote operators to predict the effects of their actions using old data. Click here. (3/11)

Russia Plans to Launch New Glonass Satellite on March 24 (Source: Space Daily)
Russia is planning to launch another Glonass-M navigation satellite into orbit on March 24, the Defense Ministry said Wednesday. Glonass is Russia's answer to the US Global Positioning System, or GPS, and is designed for both military and civilian uses. "March 24 has been determined as the most optimal date for Glonass-M launch," said Col. Alexei Zolotukhin. (3/11)

China 'Deploys Satellites' in Search for Malaysia Plane (Source: AFP)
Beijing is deploying as many as 10 satellites in hopes of tracking down Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, state media reported Tuesday, as the search for the vanished aircraft entered its fourth day. (3/11)

Mars Name-a-Crater Scheme Runs Into Trouble (Source: Space Daily)
The world's paramount astronomical authority on Tuesday slapped down a bid to hawk the names of Mars' craters, saying the Red Planet's monickers are not up for sale. "Such initiatives go against the spirit of free and equal access to space, as well as against internationally recognized standards," the Paris-based International Astronomical Union (IAU) said. (3/11)

SpaceX Intends to Speed/Expand Falcon-9 Production (Source: Aviation Week)
"Within a year, we need to get it from where it is right now, which is about a rocket core every four weeks, to a rocket core every two weeks,” Elon Musk says. By the end of 2015, says SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell, the company plans to ratchet up production to 40 cores per year. “We're right now on a schedule where we can produce the vehicles every month,” she says. “What we need to do is ramp up so we can meet our manifest for next year in time.”

SpaceX is preparing to test and qualify the Falcon Heavy next year. The rocket will use Falcon 9 cores for a combined 27 engines to power its first stage. Although slated to debut in 2014, Musk says the company's production schedule is too tight to support a test flight in 2014. “We need to find three additional cores that we could produce, send them through testing and then fly without disrupting our launch manifest,” Musk says. (3/10)

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