Shuttle News: March 2010 Archives

Posey Highlights Space in Upcoming Local Events

"Congressman Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) has announced a schedule of events he will be attending focusing on space related issues. Below is a list of events, with indication of events that are open to the media. In addition to the events listed below, Congressman Posey will meet with the Space Union Leaders to discuss jobs and the issues currently facing the space industry. He will also meet with Colonel Ed Wilson, the new Commander of the 45th Space Wing."

"STS-130 video highlights as compiled by the SE&I imagery team here at JSC from all of the ground, air, ET and SRB assets."

Dear Colleague Letter: NASA Cuts Threaten National Defense - Invitation to Important Defense Staff Briefing Next Week, Rep. Rob Bishop

"With the industry already reeling from the cumulative impacts of these large SRM program cuts and terminations, NASA has now made an ill-advised and drastic decision to propose total cancellation of the Constellation manned space flight program, which would also include termination of the Ares 1 rocket, leaving our nation without a single large-scale SRM program in full production for the first time in 50 years! That will leave the U.S. to rely solely on the Navy's D-5 missile Life Extension program, with a production rate of only one booster stack per month, as the bedrock in sustaining our nation's ability to produce large scale solid rocket motors. .... This important staff briefing will be conducted by representatives from SRM producer, ATK, as well as their suppliers and aerospace industry teammates, followed by lots of time for Q&A."

Utahns in Congress all against cuts to NASA, Salt Lake Tribune

"Bishop, whose district include Alliant Techsystems, which produces solid rocket motors and employs 3,500 people, said that Obama's budget on NASA doesn't save any money and that it would actually cost $2.5 billion to end the Constellation program. Moreover, Bishop says Obama's move hurts the country's ability to enhance its missile defenses."

Keith's note: I find it to be a little strange that the other major U.S. manufacturer of SRMs, Aerojet, is not being invited to participate in this presentation. If Rep. Bishop truly intended this event to be a discussion about national capabilities, one would assume that he'd try and get a representative set of presentations - not just one company's - the one he represents in Congress. Truth be known, this is really all about ATK and the fear of lost business in Utah - with the arm waving about national issues used as a smoke screen. As for DoD concerns, there is clearly no consensus on this issue - either way. As for the D-5, its first stage stage (a SRM) is 24 feet long whereas Aerojet's SRMs on the Atlas V are 67 feet long - so clearly someone other than ATK can make large SRMs.

Pentagon Not Yet Concerned Over NASA Changes, Aviation Week

"[Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] did mention, however, that he and other defense officials have had longstanding concerns over the space industrial base, much the same way they do for shipbuilding. Like with warships, the admiral said there is consensus that the Defense Department is paying too much for old systems when it comes to space assets."

Sen. Says Solid Rocket Motor Costs Will Double, Navy Disagrees, Defense News

"During a Senate Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee hearing, Rear Adm. Stephen Johnson, said he expects solid rocket motor prices to rise 10 to 20 percent. He assured Vitter that 100 percent price growth is not likely. Johnson heads Navy strategic systems programs."

New NASA Policy = Higher USAF Launch Costs?, earlier post

Keith's note: As is usually the case at times like this rumors abound in and around NASA. Many are of the sort that spread because you hope that they are true. Having the ring of logic helps too. In this case, the rumor or viral meme that I keep encountering is that the President will visit KSC - not just to try and woo people with his prose mixed with logic and compassion - but rather that he will augment his comments with the announcement of a compromise of sorts. He'd announce it after describing the problem and discussing the options he has available to him.

The question lingering in the minds of folks inside and outside NASA - as well as inside and outside the Beltway is why political strategists in the White House would knowingly send their boss into the proverbial lion's den with nothing but words as a defense. There are a lot of angry people at KSC who will be unemployed through no fault of their own in a short period of time - in a region where there is not another space program to go work for. As such, whether it is an anguished and angry outburst in a town hall meeting or pickets along the road, folks down there have little to lose - and their elected officials are almost as desperate. Opinions will be brutal and frank. Lots of potential YouTube moments.

Review of NASA's Progress on Retiring the Space Shuttle Program, NASA OIG

"Based on calculations by the Office of Inspector General, historical flight rates, and internal NASA evaluations, NASA is not likely to meet its September 2010 timetable, and it will most likely take until the second quarter of FY 2011 to complete the last of the planned Space Shuttle flights."

My Word by Buzz Aldrin: Let shuttle do heavy lifting, Orlando Sentinel

"I have proposed that the heavy-lift rocket, which nearly everyone involved in space policy agrees we will need, be based upon the existing space-shuttle architecture. That means the heavy lifter uses the four-segment solid-fuel boosters, external tank and shuttle main engines, existing shuttle facilities, and, equally as important, the existing shuttle work force. Only the winged orbiter is replaced with a payload canister with the three engines mounted at its base."

NASA Needs a Clear Destination for Space Exploration, Experts Say,

"I think we need to consider the attention span of the public, and the term limit of people in Congress that want to get reelected," said Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon. "We want to keep activity going that is inspirational for the young people, that is something that happens within term limits."

Why We Should Keep Flying the Space Shuttle, Buzz Aldrin, Huffington Post

"America has invested 30 years in the Shuttle system. Instead of retiring it and beginning with a new "clean sheet of paper" approach that will take extra time and money, I propose we follow the Russian example and make the basic Shuttle the foundation of a space program that can take us literally to Mars. Use the boosters, engines and big tank as the backbone of a new heavy lift rocket. Fly that rocket from the same facilities as the current Shuttles use. Keep much of the existing workforce working, because the only thing you will change is older designs and engines, making way for a heavy lift launcher derived from the Shuttle basics and capable of carrying large new spacecraft to the station or destinations beyond."

NASA readies retired test shuttle Enterprise for one last flight, Collectspace

"Enterprise, NASA's first space shuttle prototype, which in 1985 was delivered to the Smithsonian as a museum piece after proving that a winged spacecraft could land safely as a glider, is now being readied by the space agency for what is planned to be its final ferry flight atop a modified Boeing 747 jetliner."

Space Shuttle Enterprise Has a New Home, 2003

Big Slip for STS-131?

Valve problem threatens to delay April shuttle launch,

"Engineers familiar with the system said the valve cannot be directly serviced at the launch pad. If the problem cannot be resolved by indirect methods or development of an acceptable flight rationale, the only option would be to roll Discovery back to the Vehicle Assembly Building, detach it from its external tank, haul it to its processing hangar and remove the OMS pod for repairs or replacement."

Obama's plans for NASA changes met with harsh criticism, Washington Post

"Congress must approve NASA's strategic change. Lawmakers in Florida, Alabama and Texas, states rich in space jobs, have sharply criticized the Obama plan as a job-killer. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) says that under Obama's strategy "America's decades-long dominance of space will finally come to an end."

Introduction of S. 3068 by Sen. Hutchison, Congressional Record 3 March 2010

"The legislation I am introducing today would ensure that a final decision on the timing of the space shuttle retirement, or even the number of missions it might still be required to fly, would not be made until the issues involved are fully considered and resolved and we are fully convinced that the shuttle's capability is no longer needed. In particular, we must answer the question of how we support, maintain, and fully utilize the ISS, not just in 5 or more years, when any new commercially-developed vehicle might be available, but right now, as we are about to cut the ribbon on it as a finally completed research facility."

Keith's note: In this post by Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation staffer Jeff Bingham (51D Mascot) on he notes that "The Hutchison Bill, by its very structure, is written so as to be the "core" of a broader NASA Authorization Bill, and it is fully planned and expected, going in, that it will likely be "absorbed" into that larger NASA Authorization Bill, which will likely be reported by the Commerce Committee, once it is satisfied with it, and it goes through the process known as "mark-up" (amendment and endorsement by the Committee) as a new and separate bill."

Kosmas and Posey Introduce Bill to Minimize Human Spaceflight Gap

"Today, Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas (FL-24) and Congressman Bill Posey (FL-15) introduced legislation to maintain a robust human spaceflight program, minimize the spaceflight gap, and protect Space Coast jobs. The Human Spaceflight Capability Assurance and Protection Act would extend use of the International Space Station (ISS) through 2020, allow NASA to continue flying the Space Shuttle, and push to accelerate a next-generation NASA-developed space vehicle. A companion bill has been introduced by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) in the U.S. Senate."

Space shuttle can fly beyond 2010, if money is there: NASA, AFP

"The US space shuttle fleet can continue flying beyond NASA's September 30 deadline if the money is made available to keep it going, a US space agency official told reporters Tuesday. "I think the real issue that the agency and the nation has to address is the expense," said Space Shuttle Program Manager John Shannon, noting the shuttle fleet costs the National Aeronautics and Space Administration 200 million dollars per month to maintain it in working condition. "Where that money comes from is the big question," he added."

Obama's New Mission for NASA Sets Off Intense Criticism, Fox

"It's amazing that we're headed down a path where we're not going to have any vehicles at all to launch from the Kennedy Space Center for an extended period of time," John Shannon, NASA's space shuttle manager said at a news conference. "And to give up all the lessons learned, the blood, sweat and tears that we have expended to get the space shuttle to the point where it is right now where it is performing so magnificently," he said."

Changes at USA

Keith's note: Sources report that Dick Covey announced his retirement as the head of United Space Alliance this morning.

Florida Fires Back

Florida legislators blast new NASA plan, Orlando Sentinel

"Aides to U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, the Rockledge Republican who organized the letter campaign, said every Florida lawmaker now has agreed to sign it."

Florida Congressional Delegation Letter to President Obama Regarding NASA FY 2011 Budget

"Dear Mr. President: As members of the Florida congressional delegation, we write to express deep concerns with the Administration's FY 2011 budget request as it relates to the future of America's space program. While the budget request was presented to Members of Congress and staff as a game-changing strategy to move America's human space program beyond activities in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) serious questions remain regarding its goals, milestones, inherent cost and schedule risks, and severe disruptions to the workforce at our nation's premier spaceport."

NASA JSC Memo: Commercial-Crew Vehicle Transition Concepts 1 March 2010

"The President's 201 1 Budget Proposal which was unveiled on February 8, 2010, places an emphasis on commercial vehicles "to provide astronaut transportation to the International Space Station (ISS), reducing the sole reliance on foreign crew transports and catalyzing new businesses and significant new jobs." The following paper provides recommendations for the transition to a commercial-crew vehicle to the ISS which leverages the experience gained in the operation of the Space Shuttle, the ISS, and in the design of Constellation."

Hutchison Introduces Bill to Close Gap in U.S. Spaceflight

"Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ranking Member on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today introduced legislation to close the gap in U.S. human space flight that will occur if the space shuttle is retired before the next generation of space vehicle is developed. Senator Hutchison's bill would allow the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to extend the shuttle's service as work continues on the next generation of American space vehicle. Companion legislation is expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives next week by Reps. Suzanne Kosmas (D-Florida) and Bill Posey (R-Florida)."

Kosmas Presses Budget Committee to Continue Shuttle Funding

"There is only one existing vehicle with the capability to deliver certain pieces of hardware that will enable a longer lifespan of the ISS, maintain continued U.S. independent access to space, and ensure the station's research mission is maximized to fullest extent possible - and that is the Space Shuttle," Congresswoman Kosmas said to the committee. "I believe that as we debate long-term future of our human space program, it is prudent to take steps to ensure the Space Shuttles can continue to operate in order to fully support and service the ISS."

- Shuttle flights would continue under new proposal, Orlando Sentinel
- Reprieve Sought for Space Shuttles, NY Times



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