June 23, 2015

Florida Governor Vetoes Aerospace Budget Items (Source: SPACErePORT)
Governor Rick Scott broke the record for line-item vetoes in the state's latest budget. Lawmakers approved a budget of $78.7 billion after a painful legislative session, but Governor Scott axed $461 million from it, including a long list of local 'earmark' budget items supported by influential legislators. Among the vetoed projects were: $2.5M for a FIT Space Research Institute; $1M Educational Aerospace Partnership Center; $200K for the US Space Walk of Fame Foundation; $1.5M for Cecil Spaceport Infrastructure; and $500K for matching grants from an FAA Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation. Here's the full list. (6/23)

SpaceX Can't Jettison Class Actions Over Mass Layoffs (Source: Law360)
A California judge on Monday rejected Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s bid to shut down a pair of putative class actions alleging it laid off hundreds of workers without a state-mandated warning, tossing defamation claims but ruling the plaintiffs had sufficiently pled their labor law claims.

The suits, filed last year, alleged that SpaceX laid off up to several hundred employees without filing Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notices as required by state law. The company said last year that it let go of a small fraction of its employees after completing annual reviews. (6/23)

For Hurricane Forecasters, Jason-3 Can’t Launch Soon Enough (Source: Space News)
Hurricane intensity is only one of the jobs performed by space-based altimeters like the one onboard Jason-3, a satellite built by prime contractor Thales Alenia Space that NOAA, Europe’s Eumetsat meteorological satellite organization, NASA and the French space agency, CNES, were planning to launch July 22 until engineers detected contamination in one of four spacecraft thrusters. Jason-3 is now scheduled to launch in early August onboard a Falcon 9 rocket from California. (6/22)

Europe's Vega Launches Latest Earth Science Satellite (Source: Spaceflight Now)
The Vega lifted off from Kourou, French Guiana on schedule and placed the Sentinel-2A spacecraft into a sun-synchronous orbit. The spacecraft, built by Airbus Defence and Space for the European Space Agency and European Commission, will provide multispectral imagery of the Earth. The spacecraft is the second in a series of Earth observation missions within Europe's Copernicus program. (6/23)

Kazakh Cosmonaut To Take Brightman’s Place On Soyuz Flight (Source: Space News)
A Kazakh cosmonaut, and not a Japanese businessman who had been training as a backup, will take the place of space tourist Sarah Brightman on a Soyuz flight to the International Space Station in September, the Russian space agency Roscosmos announced June 22. (6/22)

UrtheCast Acquiring Deimos Imaging (Source: Globe and Mail)
UrtheCast is buying Deimos Imaging, a Spanish remote sensing company. The Canadian company said it is paying 74.2 million euros ($83.3 million) to acquire Deimos from its parent company, Elecnor. UrtheCast said it will finance the deal with a mix of debt and equity. Deimos operates the Deimos-1 satellite that provides 22-meter-resolution imagery, and is finishing commissioning of Deimos-2, which will provide imagery at resolutions as sharp as 0.75 meters. (6/23)

Countdown to Space Tourism Flights. Eleven Years and Counting (Source: Parabolic Arc)
SpaceShipOne became the first private human spacecraft on June 22, 2004. Mike Melvill flew the tiny ship to just above 62 miles. SpaceShipOne would fly to space twice more that year to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize before being retired to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic have spent nearly 11 years trying to replicate this feat with the much larger SpaceShipTwo. The results have been a wrecked ship, four dead Scaled Composites employees, and not a single flight anywhere near space. The Mojave Air & Space Port — America’s first inland spaceport — has not seen a human fly into space from it in more than a decade. (6/22)

NASA Selects Six Wild Ideas in Aviation for Further Study (Source: SpaceRef)
During a day-long meeting in April, 17 teams pitched their ideas to NASA managers. The ideas ranged from environmentally-friendly electric propulsion that uses an aircraft's structure as a battery, to computer programs that safely allow new airplane designs to go more quickly from concept to use. NASA managers likened the scene to a television reality show in which aspiring entrepreneurs try to sell their ideas to a panel of savvy investors.

"We may find none of these ideas will work," said Doug Rohn, NASA’s Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program director in the agency's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD). “On the other hand, we could learn they look promising and worth additional longer-term investment."

Funded under NASA's Convergent Aeronautics Solutions Project, the studies will run from two to 2.5 years. The project teams are made up of NASA employees from a variety of technical disciplines working across the agency’s aeronautics centers in Virginia, California and Ohio. Each study involves work across multiple centers and disciplines, and directly addresses at least one of NASA’s strategic research goals for aeronautics. Click here. (6/22)

Goddard Satellite Servicing Office Gets $150 Million in Senate Spending Bill (Source: Space News)
Senate appropriators want to give a small office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, a $20 million budget increase to help launch a robotic servicing mission to an aging U.S. satellite by 2019. Tucked away in the $18.3 billion 2016 NASA budget approved June 11 by the Senate Appropriations Committee is $150 million for Goddard’s Satellite Servicing Capabilities Office.

The office — which was founded in 1984 and engineered five astronaut repair missions to the Hubble Space Telescope in the 1990s and early 2000s — got $130 million in 2015 and $125 million in 2014, NASA spokesman Dewayne Johnson wrote in a June 17 email. The shop employs “a few dozen civil servants,” he said. (6/22)

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