February 15, 2015

Future of Space Travel is a Private Affair (Source: Daily Record)
When Columbus sailed west, there were doubtless all sorts of important-seeming topics of discussion, but now when we think of 1492, we think about Columbus. Likewise, though last week saw much discussion about Brian Williams’ helicopter lies, ISIL atrocities, and measles, what may turn out to be the big story of 2015 got much less attention. And, ironically, the Obama administration may wind up being most remembered for its tremendous successes in space policy, a field that, as far as I know, doesn’t particularly interest President Obama.

On the space front generally, the Obama administration’s policies have substantially boosted the private space launch industry. Companies ranging from Virgin Galactic to Blue Origin to SpaceX and XCOR and many more are building rockets and experimenting with new ways to get into space cheaply. But another company, Bigelow Aerospace, has been looking beyond the process of getting to outer space, to the question of what to do once we get there. Click here. (2/15)

To Russia With Love (Source: Space KSC)
If you like seeing U.S. taxpayer dollars sent to Russia, you'll love H.R. 810. The NASA Authorization Act of 2015 was introduced by Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS), whose district just happens to include NASA's Stennis Space Center, which tests Space Launch System engines.

The House Subcommittee on Space has representatives from both parties who represent districts with NASA space centers and/or legacy system contractors. The 2010 authorization act mandated that NASA develop the Space Launch System, and Section 304 required NASA to use “existing contracts, investments, workforce, industrial base, and capabilities from the Space Shuttle and Orion and Ares 1 projects” — without any competitive bidding.

SLS was, from its inception, workfare for NASA space centers and their contractors. Critics dubbed it the Senate Launch System because senators that represented NASA space center/contractor states crafted the SLS language to protect jobs in their states. Without deliberation in committee, H.R. 810 was fast-tracked to the House floor, where it was passed by voice vote on February 10. (2/14)

With ATV-5, Europe Ends An Era (Source: Aviation Week)
Europe's fifth and final Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) Feb. 14, marking the end of a seven-year era in European spaceflight. Named “Georges LeMaitre” after the Belgian priest – a cosmologist and father of the Big Bang theory – ATV-5 undocked from the aft port of the Russian Zvezda service module onboard the ISS at 8:42 a.m. eastern in preparation for a controlled destructive atmospheric reentry Sunday afternoon. (2/14)

Colorado State Lawmakers Set Sights on Aerospace Industry (Source: Denver Post)
A group of Colorado lawmakers wants to ensure that the state's aerospace industry lives long and prospers. The Colorado Aerospace and Defense Caucus advocates for the massive impact that the space and defense industries have on the state's economy. But the caucus started out, shall we say, going where no caucus has gone before.

"Last legislative session, some interns and I were watching ' Star Trek' during lunches and breaks, and we thought 'Why don't we start a Star Trek Caucus?' " said Rep. Paul Rosenthal, D-Denver. "Let's have some fun while we do some serious work." The Star Trek Caucus shared an equal appreciation for watching the crew of the USS Enterprise explore the universe and for the state's role in real space exploration missions such as NASA's MAVEN and Orion.

To that end, it invited experts from various areas of Colorado's aerospace economy to speak at its meetings before members watched the show. Presenters included former state Rep. Joe Rice, now the director of government relations at Littleton-based Lockheed Martin Space Systems. "Unfortunately, not a lot of legislators took it seriously, so we decided to make it more serious," Rosenthal said. Hence, the Colorado Aerospace and Defense Caucus was born. (2/15)

Colorado Reps Land Posts With Sway on Space Business (Source: Denver Post)
The appointments of U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner to key congressional committees overseeing national space policy and science exploration could help propel Colorado to the top of the aerospace heap. "We now have stability in Congress to make sure dollars and projects underway in Colorado don't get curtailed," said Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. CEO Tom Clark. "This is significant momentum to us in terms of moving that Colorado brand forward — we don't have to spend so much time looking over our shoulders."

Perlmutter's appointment to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology is mirrored in the Senate, where Gardner will serve on the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness. These posts give Colorado a visible seat at the national aerospace and science table for the first time since 2009, when Mark Udall, who served on the House committee, was elected to the Senate. Gardner and Perlmutter say they have goals — big ones — for the coming year. At their core is the Colorado-centric Orion mission, which is integral to NASA's ambitious plan to send humans to Mars by 2030. (2/15)

Spaceport America Holds First-Ever Valentine's Day Fly-In (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Spaceport America hosted 10 private pilots and 24 of their guests Saturday in a first-ever fly-in event held at the spaceport on Valentine's Day. Visiting aircraft at the event ranging from a large twin-engine, 6-passenger Cessna aircraft to a two-seat, homebuilt RV 4, parked on the spaceport apron around the iconic "Gateway to Space" terminal-hangar building.

Spaceport America Executive Director Christine Anderson and her staff took the group of pilots and their passengers on a special morning tour of the Spaceport Operations Center and then during a luncheon updated the group on the spaceport's progress. The spaceport guests were treated to a private tour of the terminal-hangar building given by Jonathan Firth, Virgin Galactic senior vice president, before departing in mid-afternoon. (2/14)

Countdown to UK Spaceport Decision for Moray and Stornoway (Source: Press and Journal)
The countdown to a “crucial” decision which will shape the future of UK space travel is on. Moray is in the running to host the first UK spaceport, with sites selected at Lossiemouth and Kinloss. Six other aeordromes, at Stornoway, Leuchars, Machrihanish, Prestwick, Newquay and Llanbedr are also on the shortlist. Universities, Science and Cities Minister Greg Clark promised this week that the government will move “quickly” in selecting a site. (2/15)

Private Companies Aim for Lunar Bounty (Source: SEN)
Although it is over 40 years since NASA last sent an astronaut to the Moon, private companies and space agencies are now dreaming of returning there to plunder its treasures. They aim to mine it for water ice that could be the key to re-fuelling spacecraft away from Earth, and to hunt for desirable "rare earth elements". Texas-based Shackleton Energy Company (SEC) has plans to separate the Moon's water ice, found at the two poles, into its constituent elements of hydrogen and oxygen and sell it as propellant for spacecraft. Click here. (2/15)

Canadian Museum of Science to Dismantle Rocket (Source: Ottawa Sun)
The Canadian Museum of Science and Technology will be removing two of its iconic lawn displays for safety reasons. The Atlas Rocket has been a part of the museum for more than 40 years, but it is deteriorating and must be dismantled. The rocket is the property of the United States Airforce. However, it will not be taking it back and will instead instruct the contractors on how to properly dismantle and dispose of it. (2/10)

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