Latest News

Transcript of SWF/ACA Seminar on New National Space Policy Now Available

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 08-Jul-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:17 PM)

A transcript of the seminar hosted by the Secure World Foundation and the Arms Control Association last week is now available. The seminar analyzed President Obama's new National Space Policy.

NASA Searching for Chief Historian

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 08-Jul-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:15 PM)

NASA is looking for a chief historian at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. It's a quick turnaround, though. The position was posted today and applications are due by next Tuesday, July 13. Visit USA Jobs for more details.

Particles Found in Hayabusa Asteroid Sample Return Capsule

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 06-Jul-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:16 PM)

The BBC reports that Japanese scientists have found particles inside the sample return capsule of the Hayabusa spacecraft that completed its seven-year round trip journey to asteroid Itokawa last month. They do not know for certain yet, however, whether they are from the asteroid or Earth.

More Analysis of the New National Space Policy

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 06-Jul-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:15 PM)

Jeff Foust has a really good write-up about the new national space policy in The Space Review this morning.

And for anyone who missed it (given its unique title, No Place for Jingoism, that does not quite convey that it's about the space program), the New York Times did an editorial about the policy on Friday.

Lambert: Space Industrial Base Needs A More Nuanced, Sophisticated Approach

Laura M. Delgado
Posted: 06-Jul-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:14 PM)

Speaking of what he described as one of the seven pillars of a reformed industrial policy for space at the Department of Defense (DoD), Brett Lambert, Director of Industrial Policy at DoD, said that the former view of a monolithic organism is no longer valid and that "a more nuanced, sophisticated approach to industrial policy" is needed. At a recent event hosted by the George C. Marshall Institute at the National Press Club, Lambert gave the keynote to discuss the future of the space industrial base, with particular emphasis on its implications for national security.

Lambert said that "space is a unique animal" and that many of the assumptions that guide policies in other areas are therefore not valid. Acknowledging on the one hand the budgetary constraints of U.S. engagement in two wars, as well as the fact that "we are where we are" and not facing a clean slate, forces policymakers to look for realistic answers to the problems that continue to threaten an eroding industrial base. Those include the loss of critical skills in an ageing workforce, and the departure of second and third tier suppliers due to a lack of stability and policies that hinder their ability to compete globally.

This competition is not only a result of globalization, but of U.S. policies as well - "a lot of our wounds are self-inflicted," said Lambert. This realization has spurred recent developments in export control reform, which many agree is one of the areas stunting the growth of the industrial space sector. But one key message of the discussion, underscored by the panel of experts who followed Lambert's remarks, is that the public-private relationship involved with the industrial base is so profound that reform is needed not only to support the industry, but to benefit the country. Lambert described export control reform as "a very self-interested move" and not a gift to industry.

Far reaching reform will be complex, requiring that balance be struck between priorities in a constrained budget environment. One issue requiring attention is the need to spend more on research and development (R&D) so as to invest in the technologies that will make U.S. companies more competitive in the future. "The national security community is saying that it's not an 'either/or' [situation]" between R&D and supporting ongoing activities, said Vincent Dennis of Deloitte Consulting. Describing this challenge, Hal Hagemeier of DoD's National Security Space Office said that "the problem is you can't schedule breakthroughs," but that at the same time "we do want the 'Beam me up, Scotty'-kind of technologies."

Perhaps the biggest challenge is that no one can say for sure how effective reform will be in the short term. There is no data to show that there will be enough markets to sustain U.S. suppliers, or whether, once able to compete, buyers will choose U.S. products as opposed to sometimes cheaper foreign alternatives. The impact of industrial policy reform may only be felt after several years. On this point, Bill Adkins, president of Adkins Strategies, said that while there may not be immediate payoff, "as the technology changes perhaps the U.S. will be ahead" and the investments may bear fruit in the future.

A webcast of the event is available on the Marshall Institute's website, along with its own summary.

Events of Interest: Week of July 5-9, 2010

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 05-Jul-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:13 PM)

It's a relatively quiet week in Washington with Congress in recess and most people at the beach, but for those who want to venture out into our horrid weather, here are a few events that are going on. Also, a NAC task force will be meeting in beautiful Boulder, CO. For more details, see our calendar on the right menu or click the links below.

Wednesday-Thursday, July 7-8, Washington DC

  • Space Studies Board's Committee on Earth Studies, Keck Center (500 Fifth St., NW). See agenda for when the open sessions will be held.
  • NASA Advisory Council Astrophysics Subcommittee, NASA Headquarters, Room 3H46
    • July 7, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm
    • July 8, 8:30 am - 4:00 pm

Thursday, July 8, Washington, DC

Thursday-Friday, July 8-9, Boulder, CO

Cargo Spacecraft Succeeds in Docking with ISS on Second Try

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 04-Jul-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:12 PM)

Russia's Progress M-06M spacecraft successfully docked at the International Space Station (ISS) today. The first attempt, on Friday, failed because of a radio interference problem.

This time NASA says the docking was "executed flawlessly by Progress' Kurs automated rendezvous system." NASA calls the mission "ISS Progress 38" because it is the 38th Progress to visit ISS, but there have been many more Progress flights than that in the history of the program, which dates back to 1978 and Russia's (then the Soviet Union) Salyut 6 space station. Progress 1 was the first spacecraft to execute automated in-space propellant transfer, refilling Salyut 6's tanks.

Cargo Spacecraft to Retry Docking on Sunday

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 03-Jul-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:12 PM)

The Russian space agency and NASA will make a second attempt to dock a Progress spacecraft with the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday. The scheduled docking time is 12:10 pm EDT. The spacecraft, which NASA calls Progress 38 but is formally designated Progress M-06M, aborted its first attempt at docking on Friday.

NASA reports that Russian specialists determined that radio interference caused the Progress automated rendezvous system, Kurs, to abort the docking or "cancel dynamic operations." The interference was between Kurs and a backup manual docking system aboard the space station designated TORU. The abort occured when the TORU television system was activated, as it usually is in case a manual docking is required. The report did not say why the two systems interfered this time, but stated that the Kurs system itself did not fail. Instead, it did what it should have done under the circumstances.

For the second attempt tomorrow, NASA says that the TORU system will not be activated.

Two Interesting NRC Meetings Next Week

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 02-Jul-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:17 PM)

Everyone else may be on vacation next week, but the National Research Council will be hard at work!

On Wednesday and Thursday, July 7-8, the Committee on Earth Studies of the Space Studies Board (SSB) will meet and hear from NOAA, USGS and NASA officials on the status of their activities, as well as experts at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) on the Total Solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS). See the agenda for details. It will be in room 105 of the NRC's Keck Building at 500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC.

On Thursday, unfortunately at the same time as the CES meeting but just down the hall for anyone who wants to run back and forth, the NRC will hold a workshop on improving satellite data of the Gulf oil spill and other disasters. It's from 9:00 am - 1:15 pm in room 100 Keck. Sponsored by the NRC's Disasters Roundtable, the agenda is here. Entitled "From Reality 2010 to Vision 2020: Translating Remotely Sensed Data to Assets, Exposure, Damage, and Losses," the press release explains that it will "explore how satellite images and data are and can be effectively used before, during, and after these disasters and how the flow, understanding, and utility of such data could be improved. In addition, the workshop aims to see how remotely sensed data could be used more effectively in disasters 10 years from now."

So for everyone who's NOT at the beach, these should be very interesting meetings to attend.

Russian Cargo Spacecraft Fails to Dock with ISS

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 02-Jul-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:16 PM)

A Russian Progress spacecraft failed to dock with the International Space Station (ISS) today. According to tweets by NASA, the spacecraft lost its telemetry lock on the space station and safely flew past at a distance of 3 kilometers. NASA and the Russian space agency are examining options, but NASA says no further docking attempts will be made today.

In 1997, a Progress spacecraft collided with Russia's Mir space station while two Russians, Vasily Tsibliyev and Alexandr Lazutkin, and American Michael Foale were aboard. The Mir crew successfully secured the space station, although the module that was impacted, Spektr, could never be used again.

The near-catastrophe caused great anxiety especially in the United States and led to questions in Congress about whether the "shuttle-Mir" program should continue. At that time, U.S. astronauts were serving as members of long-duration Mir crews, and Russian cosmonauts were serving on U.S. space shuttle missions that visited Mir. The program did continue despite the collision and an unrelated fire aboard Mir earlier the same year. The incidents illustrated both the dangers of spaceflight and the skill, resilience and determination of the crews.

Events of Interest      

Full calendar of future events (with filters)-click here »


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