Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Articles of Interest


Guenter Wendt greets astronaut Wally Schirra in December 1965.

I've been out of town for a few days. Here's what happened while I was gone.

Florida Today reports that legendary space pioneer Guenter Wendt passed away in Merritt Island at age 86. Wendt was affectionately known as the "Pad Fuehrer" for his disciplined management of launch pad activities during the Right Stuff era of the 1960s.

Air Force certification and a May 14 Shuttle launch have postponed the first SpaceX Falcon 9 launch to May 23, but it can be moved up if circumstances permit.

President Obama appointed the task force that will lead the $40 million job creation program for the Space Coast. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke are co-chairs. SpacePolitics.com blogger Jeff Foust comments on the task force.

Space Coast Congressional representative Suzanne Kosmas introduced a bill that would give $5,000 to displaced space workers to get a teaching certificate. Kosmas opposes Obama's proposed FY 2011 NASA budget, and has promised to keep both the Shuttle and Constellation programs going. Good luck with that.

NASA will test a rocket escape system that would separate a crew capsule from an exploding rocket. Its estimated velocity would be 0 to 600 MPH in two seconds. Left unsaid is what would be the effect on a human body, although as one observer pointed out it might be better than the alternative.

SpacePolitics.com has an article about a draft study of the U.S. commercial space sector by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "The draft report primarily notes the relatively weak standing of the commercial launch industry in the United States and the need for a more robust launch industry to meet national needs," Jeff Foust wrote. What I find interesting about this is the people who claim Obama's priming the U.S. commercial space sector will turn us into a third-rate spacefaring nation, when the reality is that other nations are ahead of us in commercial space.

Aviation Week suggests that Obama's NASA proposal may not be resolved this year as Congress may use a continuing resolution to delay a budget decision into FY 2011.

An essay by Roger Handberg on The Space Review looks at the tortured history of the International Space Station and its future now that Obama has proposed cancelling Constellation. Handberg concludes, "... Circumstances have led NASA and the United States back to a world envisioned by Wernher von Braun and gloriously portrayed in several Disney short films. It is not a giant wheel spinning in space, but its purposes are increasingly harkening back to days of yore.

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