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Thursday, January 31, 2008

V-PRIZE and Center for Strategic and International Studies to Look at P2P Spaceflight Monday

The Virginia-based V-PRIZE Foundation and the Center for Strategic and International Studies have joined together for a Monday workshop in Crystal City, Virginia to discuss the possibilities associated with a point-to-point suborbital spaceflight using the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport as the starting point. REGISTER NOW.

Virginia Zero-G, Zero-Tax Advances

State Senator William C. Wampler, Jr. (R-Bristol) and State Seantor Phillip Puckett (D-Russell County) advanced the so-called Virginia 'Zero-G, Zero-Tax bill [SB 286] from the Senate Finance Committee on a 16-to-0 vote. The measure is now poised for a Senate floor vote this week or next.

"Senator Wampler and Senator Puckett were the point-of-the-spear" in advancing the ZeroG, ZeroTax measure forward and out of the all important Senate Finance Committee," noted space advocate Jack Kennedy. "I am quite grateful to the Senate Finance Committee's faith and wisdom."

Meanwhile, the five House 'Zero-G, Zero-Tax' bills have been merged into House Bill 238 carried by State Delegate John Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake) after being held-up in a House Finance subcommittee with the possibility of being held over until next year. The Senate action prompted the House subcommittee to recommend reporting the measure to the full Finance Committee and on to the House floor. House action is expected next week.

Both bill are now expected to pass the Legislature but there remains a possibility of a legislator seeking to re-refer back to committee. Therefore, space advocates must remain watchful.

Other measures to advance the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport remain in the House Rules Committee offered by State Delegate Lynwood Lewis (D-Accomack) and Cosgrove. The V-PRIZE / FAA-AST study resolution has passed both the House and Senate offered by State Delegate Terry G. Kilgore. Kilgore patroned the Spaceflight Liability and Immunity Act last year.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Engage the Candidates and Their Delegates: Make Space an Issue

Important Democratic and Republican primaries are ahead of us over the next week in 21 states with literally thousands of national convention delegates to be selected. We know the position of some of the presidential candidates while others have been less forthcoming. But what we do know is that commercial, civil and military space advocates should join hands now to engage not only the candidates but the delegates going to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions within your jurisdiction so as to make space an issue with them too. Then the presidential candidates may actually answer - well, maybe.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Explorer-1 Golden Anniversary: 10:48 pm on January 31, 2008

The 50th anniversary of Explorer-1 officially launched from Cape Canveral at 10:48 pm on January 31, 1958 to mark the United States response to Sputnik-1. The booster placed America in the 'Race to Space' is marked here. Watch the LAUNCH from 1958 footage along with color background video. And, tell the 2008 presidential candidates to mark it by answering where we go in space policy from HERE!

Suggested question is this: "Today [January 31] marks the Golden Anniversary of the launch of Explorer-1, America's first space satellite. With that in mind, 50 years-on, what is YOUR vision for civil, commercial, and military space policy for a would-be presidential administration?"

After posing a question, then scroll through the questions and VOTE to ask space-related questions!

Virgin Galactic May Boost Satellites to Orbit Aboard WK2

Virgin Galactic has been focused the past few years on building a space torusim vehicle capable of taking hundreds of would weightless flyers on parabolic (up-and-down) flights from Upham, New Mexico's desert yet there is another means to boost the firm's cashflow income.

“The business plan is based round space tourism,” said Will Whitehorn, Virgin Galatic president. But he believes that offering relatively cheap access to space for satellites could “revolutionise the use of space for industrial purposes," he told the Bristish Times On-Line Sunday.

It costs $50m-$100m to launch a satellite and one in ten launches ends in disaster. Whitehorn believes Virgin Galactic could launch small satellites into low-Earth orbit from White Knight Two for less than $2.5m. He believes the company could eventually make 40% of its money from launching satellites.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Military Satellite Out of Control

A secret U.S. military satellite is said to be orbiting now out-of-control and headed to an Earth re-entry to parts unknown sometime late in February or early March, reports MSNBC Saturday afternoon.

While numerous satellites fall from low erath orbit in a controlled re-entry to harmlessly crash into one of the Earth's Oceans, this particular secret military satellite is assumed to have lost power and is now coming to Earth with no controls. Possible hazardous materials may be aboard the military satellite, it has been said.

The National Security Council and other "appropriate government agencies are monitoring the situation" a federal government official noted. But the NSC spokesman declined to comment if there could be a possible anti-satellite weapon used to take down the satellite prior to its impact on Earth if the trajectory projections indicate impact in a populated area.

In January 1978 a Soviet-made military satellite known as Cosmos 954 crashed in an uncontrolled mode into northwest Canada with radioactive materials spread about the region.

Other satellites have fallen to earth harmlessly before. In 2002 parts of a science satellite rained down over the Persian Gulf. The largest re-entry took place when Skylab, a 78-ton abandoned space laboratory fell from orbit in 1979. It came down in a fiery mass of debris that fell mainly into the Indian Ocean and onto Australia.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Year of the SpaceShip; SpaceShipTwo That Is

Virgin Galactic today revealed designs of SpaceShipTwo [oldvid] and the WhiteKnightTwo mother ship expected to begin test flights before year end. British billionaire Richard Branson and the renowned aerospace designer Burt Rutan unveiled a model of the SpaceShipTwo in New York earlier today, reports The New York Times.

[New ANIMATION] Branson told reporters in New York City, “2008 will really be the year of the spaceship.”

More than 200 potential flyers are said to have already paid deposits for the $200,000 flights, including such luminaries as Victoria Principal, Stephen Hawking, Princess Beatrice of York and others.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Space Policy Questions PLEASE!

The Republican and Demoractic presidential debates will be held Wednesday, January 30 and Thursday, January 31st respectively with civil, commercial, and military space policy questions still awaiting your submission HERE.

Space policy is at a critical crossroads with the next president having siginificant influence on determination of whether or not the United States will continue as a leader in space. American space advocates need to take considered action now.

Romney to Study Space Policy

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney declined support for a proposal to add $2-billion to the NASA budget to enhance the future prospects of maintaining a human space program past 2010, when the last shuttle flight is scheduled, according to a report in Florida Today.

Romney did pledge to "study" the minimum five year gap between the launch of the last American space shuttle and the Constellation Ares-I spacecraft now in design phase.

Civil space policy is a significant issue in the Florida economy leading the Republican candidates to visit the Kennedy Space Center and talk with aerospace workers there.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Rudy Giuliani Vows Pro-Space

Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani has told Florida space leaders that "space will be a priority in the Giuliani White House from Day One" with press reports indicating that the former New York City Mayor promised to return Americans to the moon and send astronauts to Mars if elected president.

Giuliani is the first candidate from either party to assure the Floridans directly of his support for NASA and manned space exploration. Democrats Hillary R. Clinton and Barack H. Obama have issued space policy statements.

Republican presidential candidates John McCain, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Giuliani may be pressed for more detailed positions as the campaign among voters living along central Florida's Interstate 4. Space may even become a topic in the televised presidential debate there.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Virginia to Call Upon Congress to Use Mid-Atlantic Spaceport

The Virginia General Assembly may call upon the Virginia and Maryland Congressional delegations to bring more attention to the possible use of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport for resupply of the International Space Station post retirement of the space shuttle of a resolution offered by State Delegate Lynwood W. Lewis, Jr. (D-Accomack County) is adopted.

The resolution notes that the space shuttle will be retired in 2010; that contracts with the Russian government may be the only means to ferry US astronauts to-and-from the orbiting outpost; that Virginia has suitable launch pad facilities; and, if used for such, it would bring millions of dollars in new investment to the state.

The sense of the Virginia General Assembly may be sent to the members of Congress serving from Virginia and Maryland along with the NASA Administrator.

Meanwhile, a resolution calling upon the FAA-AST to study the domestic and international legal issues associated with transoceanic point-to-point space flight has passed both the House and Senate and will be directed to the FAA.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Fly me to the moons of Saturn

Planetary scientist Carolyn Porco says, "I'm going to take you on a journey." Showing breathtaking images from the Cassini voyage to Saturn, she focuses on Saturn's intriguing largest moon, Titan, with its deserts, mudflats and puzzling lakes, and on frozen Enceladus, which seems to shoot jets of ice. Could one of these places harbor water -- or life? (Recorded March 2007 in Monterey, California. Duration: 17:21.)

Bill Stone's 'Magical Confluence'

Bill Stone, PhD. in Engineering and President of Stone Aerospace, is one of the boldest men on planet Earth today. Known as a maverick cave explorer who invented robots and dive equipment that have allowed him to plumb Earth's deepest abysses, explains his efforts to build a robot to explore Jupiter's moon Europa in this Google Ted video entitled:. "Journey to the Center of the Earth ... and Beyond."

Stone's plan is to send the machine to bore through miles of ice and swim through a liquid underworld that may harbor alien life on the moon Europa. And if that's not enough, he's also planning to mine lunar ice by 2015 at Shackleton Crater.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

VA House Passes Request for FAA to Study Transoceanic P2P

The Virginia House of Delegates passed a measure Friday requesting the Federal Aviation Administration's Commercial Space Transportation office to conduct a comprehensive study of the domestic and international legal issues associated with transoceanic point-to-point space flight while commending the efforts of the V-PRIZE Foundation.

House Joint Resolution No. 147, offered by Delegate Terry G. Kilgore (R-Scott County), will now go to the Virginia Senate where passage is expected.

In related space legislation, the Virginia Department of Taxation has provided a Fiscal Impact Statement on the seven Virginia 'ZeroG, ZeroTax' bills offered in both the House and Senate. The statement indicats state revenue impact associated with 'ZeroG, ZeroTax' is "unknown, but likely minimal."

Debate Space with Democratic and Republican Candidates Now

National interest in the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates is building as voters approach the balance of the January primaries and caucuses. The big day, however, is Feburary 5th, known as Super Tuesday, when multi-state primaries from coast-to-coast will be held. Too little focus on the aerospace industry and the future of civil, commercial and military space policy has been discussed by the field.

Blog readers may ask questions of the Republican and Democratic candidates alike by submitting questions for the January 30th and January 31st debates. The Democratic presidential candidates will take questions during the Tuesday night Nevada caucus debate as well.

So, why wait, pose your space-related question now by going to the links herein.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

First Zip By Mercury Monday

The $466-million Messenger spaceprobe, launched in 2004, will zip past the planet Mercury on Monday at 1 PM within 120-miles of its cratered equatorial terrain in its first flyby of the planet closest the Sun.

The Monday flyby of Mercury will be the first of three by the Messenger spacecraft before going into orbit around the planet on March 18, 2011. The probe will conduct remote sensing observations of the very hot planet for at least a year, according to The Houston Chronicle. Surface image data should begin streaming to Earth on Tuesday to begin answering six major science questions.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Obama's Space Policy Announced

Democratic presidential candidate Barack H. Obama's "Plan For American Leadership in Space" was announced Thursday and displayed on SpaceRef.com. Obama was the second presidential candidate to set forth a space policy statement following Democratic presidential rival Hillary R. Clinton who was first on October 1, 2007.

Obama has suggested previously that the Vision for Space Exploration be delayed by five years with NASA funds being transferred to the federal Department of Education. There was no mention of his previous statement in the Thursday release from the Obama campaign leaving his policy and previous statement in conflict.

Ask Obama about his inconsistent statements in the upcoming Nevada presidential debate.

Zero Gravity, Zero Tax Draws Legislator Support in Virginia

One State Senator and five State Delegates have introduced legislation in the Virginia state legislature to eliminate state income taxation on corporations and limited liability companies that would earn income in a no gravity space environment if launched to space from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia.

State Senator William C. Wampler, Jr. (R-Bristol), a member of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, has introduced Senate Bill 286 to eliminate Virginia state taxation from business earnings in zero gravity. Wampler was joined by fellow southwestern Virginia State Senator Phillip Puckett (D-Russell County) in offering his ZeroG, ZeroTax legislation - Senate Bill 401.

In the House of Delegates, five members have offered similar bills designed to boost Virginia's hopes of building a commercial space launch business from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport.

Delegate Terry G. Kilgore (R-Scott County) has offered House Bill 170; Delegate John Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake) has introduced House Bill 238; Delegate Mark L. Cole (R-Fredericksburg) patroned House Bill 351; Delegate Joe P. Johnson (D-Washington County) introduced House Bill 874; and, Delegate Clarence 'Bud' Phillips (D-Dickenson County) patroned House Bill 1151 --- each designed to ensure tax relief for commercial space launch firms using the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport.

Delegates Cole and Johnson serve on the House Finance Committee where Delegate Lynwood Lewis, Jr. (D-Accomac) and Delegate Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria) have agreed to back the bill in the Finance Committee.

The ZeroG, ZeroTax measure has received the endorsement of the Virginia Aerospace Advisory Council and the Virginia Joint Commission on Technology and Science in late 2007.

No Mars Impact Jan. 30th

A much-watched potential asteroid impact on Mars January 30th has been virtually ruled-out with odds now 1 in 10,000 according to the Near-Earth Object Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. It is now estimated that the 2007 WD5 asteroid will pass between 2,500 and 16,000 miles from the surface of Mars.

Atlantis Launch Set for Feb. 7

Space Shuttle Atlantis is being prepared for a Thursday, February 7 launch date from the Kennedy Spaceport in Florida to the International Space Station with the European Columbus module after an erratic fuel gauge halted previous attempts prior to the 2007 holidays.

Yet a NASA spokesperson noted that the February 7 launch date remains tentative because of having to rearrange a Russian Progress vehicle launch date so as not to conflict and the successful repair of the electrical connector that was blamed for the erratic fuel gauge that prohibited a sucessful launch previously.

See the UNOFFICIAL Space Shuttle launch manifest.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bi-State Compact Requested to Operate the Va-Md Spaceport

Virginia Delegate John Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake) has introduced a legislative measure at the 2008 Virginia General Assembly to encourage the Governor of the Commonwealth to initiate a memorandum of agreement with the Governor of Maryland to create a bi-state compact and commission to jointly fund and operate the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS).

In 2003 Virginia and Maryland entered into a memorandum of agreement executed by then-Virginia Governor Mark Warner and then-Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich with an implementation plan developed.

The Virginia Joint Commission on Technology and Science recommended that the bi-state effort be updated and reviewed to increase the investment in the regional spaceport.

Virginia May Request FAA/AST to Review Transoceanic Flight Plan

The Virginia General Assembly may call upon the FAA/AST to study the domestic and international legal issues associated with a transoceanic point-to-point space flight in House Joint Resolution 147.

The measure, offered by Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-Scott County), is expected to be referred to the House Rules Committee.

The V-Prize Foundation, Inc. is a Virginia non-profit corporation seeking to foster a commercial competition to launch a suborbital vehicle to fly from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia, to a yet to be selected location in Europe at recordbreaking speed through air and space.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Clinton - McCain: Where Does Each Candidate Stand?

Democratic presidential Hillary R. Clinton candidate pulled an upset victory in New Hampshire Tuesday while Republican presidential candidate John McCain also won the first state primary with all political eyes moving on to Nevada, South Carolina and "SuperTuesday" states.

But where do the presidential candidates stand on space policy? Why not pose the question to the candidates? You can start now with the Democrats. The debate is Tuesday on MSNBC.

Popular Mechanics recently surveyed the presidential candidates on various science and technology issues noting only Democrat Clinton has set forth a clear space policy position.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Where does McCain and Obama Stand on the Future of America's Space Program?

New Hampshire voters will shape the national presidential debate Tuesday when thousands make their way to precinct polling places with pre-primary polls indicating Arizona Senator John McCain and Illionis Senator Barack Obama as the Republican and Democratic Party favorites.

Hundreds of thousands of space workers and space advocates remain at a loss as to the position of the leading presidential candidates on the future of America's space program with the next president to determine the new civil, military, and commercial space launch policies.

New York Senator Hillary R. Clinton has been the only presidential candidate to define her space and science policy while Obama has indicated he would delay the NASA return to the moon program.

It is time that space advocates become more forceful in demanding a position paper from the leading presidential candidates.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Mars Asteroid Impact Now 1 in 28

New observations of Asteroid 2007 WD5 nearing Mars has the odds of a planetary impact now 1-in-28 or 3.6% based on data by the Magdalena Ridge Observatory in New Mexico. Further observations later this month could reduce the odds to nil. The impact could occur on Jan. 30.

But should an impact occur the surface impact crater and dust plume should be visible to orbiting Mars spacecraft and perhaps one of the Mars Exploration Rovers. The crater should be similar in size to the object that carved Meteor Crater into northern Arizona some 50,000 years ago.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Virginia Legislature May Ask Congressional Delegation to Boost Commercial Spaceport

The Virginia General Assembly may ask the Virginia Congressional delegation to flex more of its political muscle in gaining commercial space resupply missions to the International Space Station launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport this winter.

A resolution supporting the utilization of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, a commercial launch facility owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia, may be filed next week in the House of Delegates and referred to the House Rules Committee.

The resolution would call upon Virginia's members of the Congress to direct NASA to contract for future use of the Wallops Island launch pads to resupply the space station. Virginia's Congressional delegation has given too little attention to the unique capabilities being provided by Virginia taxpayers despite three of its 11 House members serving on the House Appropriations Committee.

A recent article in The Virginian-Pilot noted the growing interest in the spaceport by Virginia state legislators.