To: Scott Jenkins,
Subject: Nov. 18: Virginia Wants More Sustainable Deal To Handle MARS Repair Costs
Date: Tue Nov 18 13:00:53 MST 2014
Policy News - State
Virginia Wants More Sustainable Deal To Handle MARS Repair Costs.
The Newport News (VA) Daily Press (11/18, Dietrich) continues coverage of how Virginia wants Orbital Sciences and NASA to cover some of the cost of repairing the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) following the failed launch of the Antares rocket to the ISS. Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne said that “because obviously this could happen again...we believe that a sustainable operation would be more sharing of risk.” Layne said several time that the current deal needs to be amended to be “sustainable.” Meanwhile, Wallops Flight Facility spokesperson Jeremy Eggers said that the agency will “continue to work closely with and support Orbital and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport as they work to return to launch from Virginia’s Eastern Shore.”
Alliant Techsystems Board Still Backs Merger Following Review. The Wall Street Journal (11/18, Cameron, Subscription Publication) reports that on Monday, Alliant Techsystems said that its board still backs the proposed merger with Orbital after reviewing the launch failure.
SpaceX Now Modifying KSC Launch Pad For Falcon Heavy Rocket.
NASA Space Flight (11/17, Bergin) reported that SpaceX is now converting the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39A into a facility that can handle its Falcon Heavy rocket. According to the article, the company is “reinvigorating” the launch pad, which has not seen action since the end of the shuttle program. As of now, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy could make its launch debut “early as next summer.” The launch date will eventually be set based on a Wet Dress Rehearsal now scheduled for July 1, 2015.
Policy News - Federal
Blakey Asks Congress To pass Full Spending Bill.
Defense News (11/17, Bennett) reports that Marion Blakey, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), “the most powerful defense lobbying group,” called on both parties in Congress to pass a Federal spending bill by December 11, which is when the current continuing resolution (CR) ends. Blakey wrote in a letter to both parties that without a spending bill, agencies do not have the “flexibility” they require to address “changing and urgent needs.” The article notes that both industry and Defense Department officials “dislike” CRs because they cannot “start new programs, increase production rates or award multiyear contracts.”
Bolden: Funding Uncertainty Hampers NASA’s Development.
The WAAY-TV Huntsville, AL (11/17, Barrett) “Space Alabama” website continues coverage of the NASA Inspector General report outlining the financial challenges NASA faces in the near future. The article notes that Congress is “underfunding” NASA’s “far-reaching foci,” maintaining a “balancing act with NASA funding.” According to the article, changes in Congress every few years complicates the matter by limiting long-term planning. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, in response to the report, said, “Funding instability and uncertainty remains our number one challenge to success, resulting in limited options to accelerate or modify our development approach.”
NASA To Appoint Capability Leaders To Find More Ways To Cut Costs.
Space News (11/17, Leone, Subscription Publication) reports that NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot said that in February, NASA will appoint at least five “capability leaders” that will look for ways “to trim costs and reduce duplication” at NASA’s various centers. While Lightfoot said that some facilities “could be closed or moved,” so far the Technical Capabilities Assessment Team (TCAT) has mostly been reducing costs through efficiencies. As part of the next step in the effort, NASA will determine which capabilities, led by a capability leader, must be maintained. Lightfoot stressed that this work is not the same as that done by a Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission, noting, “What we’re trying to do is actually size the centers appropriately. ... We’re finding areas that we need to invest in that we’re not investing in, just like we’re finding areas where we may have duplication and overlap.”
F-35 Completes Trials Aboard USS Nimitz.
Reuters (11/17, Shalal) reports that the Lockheed Martin F-35 jet completed the first round of sea-based testing aboard the USS Nimitz. It achieved all of the set threshold requirements for the arrested landings and catapult takeoffs, according to the Navy and the Pentagon.
According to Aviation Week (11/17, Butler, Norris), the successful program will likely result in “more visible support from the Navy.” The article notes that the jet’s redesigned tailhook performed well during the tests. The tailhook was “a significant watch item” for the trials.
Boeing Testing EcoDemonstrator Program With 787-8 Dreamliner.
The Charleston (SC) Post and Courier (11/17, Wise) reported that Boeing is working to improve “environmental performance and fuel efficiency” via testing a specially equipped 787-8 Dreamliner as part of its “ecoDemonstrator” program, including a 40-minute “check flight” over Washington State. The 787-8 is “outfitted with 25 new technologies designed to improve environmental performance” as the current round of testing evaluates “software and other technologies, remote sensors to reduce the need for wiring, aerodynamic and flight control improvements, and wing coatings to reduce ice accumulation.”
Wilmore Installs ISS’ 3D Printer.
The WAAY-TV Huntsville, AL (11/17, Barrett) “Space Alabama” website reports that on Monday, ISS astronaut Barry Wilmore installed the Made in Space 3D printer at the ISS as part of the “final preparations” before firing it up “later this week.” The article notes that the printer is now in the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG).
Human Exploration Rover Challenge Registration Now Open.
On its website, WHNT-TV Huntsville, AL (11/17) reported that team registration for NASA’s 2015 Human Exploration Rover Challenge is now open to high school, college, and university students. The students will “compete to design, engineer and test a human-powered rover on a mock course designed to simulate the harsh and demanding terrains future NASA explorers may find on distant planets, moons and asteroids.”
Pace of Webb Telescope Work Picking Up As Launch Date Approaches.
The Washington Post (11/17, Niiler) reports on the development and scientific promise of the James Webb Space Telescope. With a scheduled launch in 2018, the pace of work at the Goddard Space Flight Center is “picking up” at a time when the deadlines are becoming “even tighter.” Paul Geithner, who is overseeing the work, said, “It’s not feasible to test it as a complete system. ... So what that means is we have to test different pieces of it and convince ourselves through testing and analysis that when it’s put together, it will work.” The article notes that even though some say the project has “sucked money...away from other worthy projects,” others are now “imagining the discoveries” the telescope will make once launched. The article focused on the telescope’s potential to make exoplanet atmospheres.
Factory Production Shows Modest Gains In October.
The AP (11/18) reports output at manufacturing plants rose 0.2 percent for the month of October, according to the Federal Reserve. Over the last 12 months, factory output rose 3.4 percent. In October, total industrial production fell 0.1 percent due to drops in output from mines and utilities. October auto production also fell 1.2 percent. The article notes that manufacturing “has helped propel economic growth for much of 2014” and that demand has increased in the US for consumer goods.
IndustryWeek (11/18) reports that NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray said, “It’s hard not to be disappointed with activity levels over the past three months... but it is also another reminder that we need to pass pro-growth measures that will buoy domestic demand, as well.”
Federal Initiatives Increasingly Supporting Hispanic Representation In STEM Fields, Education.
Hispanic Network Magazine (11/18) reports on growing interest in STEM fields among Hispanic students, framed within a growing national demand for STEM jobs and the fact that only 2% of the current STEM workforce is Hispanic. The piece details several White House initiative expansions to increase Hispanic representation in STEM fields, including a proposed $415 million budget for the STEM Innovation Initiative, the continuation of the $100 million Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions STEM and Articulation Program, Upward Bound Math-Science, the Teacher Incentive Fund, and the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program.
Wisconsin Regional Lego Robotics Competition Strengthens STEM Interests, Problem Solving.
The Green Bay (WI) Press-Gazette (11/16, Bock) reports on student participation in Lakeshore Technical College’s FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Lego League regional competition, which challenged students to complete as many of 12 robotics challenges in 2.5 minutes as possible. Roughly 22,840 teams of 160,000 students participated worldwide this year. The piece features inventions for the research presentation component of the competition as well as individual stories of deepening interests in engineering, inspired by participation in the challenge.
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