Spacetainment: Stephen Colbert and Tracy Jordan Soar into Orbit

There has been funny material on television during the last week concerning space.

On Monday, Stephen Colbert ratcheted up the pressure on NASA to follow the will of the people who voted to name the space station’s Node 3 after the late-night comedian. Colbert doesn’t quite know what a node is, but he definitely wants his name on it. Watch the excerpt from the March 30th episode here.

Meanwhile, over on 30 Rock, the always spaced out Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) makes a public appeal to anyone with a space vehicle who would be willing to fly someone with an irregular heartbeat and $40 million dollars into orbit. Network suit Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin), in a panic over his impending 50th birthday, has other ideas. As usual, Liz Lemon (Tiny Fey) is left to save the day. The episode, titled Apollo Apollo, is quite clever in how it ties both plots together as part of a common theme. Watch it here.

Boeing to Complete First X-51A Test Vehicle in 2 Weeks

Tests Are Crunch Time for Scramjet Concept
Aviation Week

Boeing will complete assembly of the first X-51A WaveRider static test vehicle over the next two weeks, paving the way for hypersonic flight tests designed to show that the supersonic combustion ramjet is ready for practical application in missiles and space launch vehicles.


Smallsats Could Change Face of U.S. Satellite Industry

Smallsats Could Get Boost in Global Financial Crisis
Aviation Week

Small satellites have been widely regarded as second-rate by Pentagon and intelligence community officials, who opt for massive, high-technology spacecraft lasting a decade or more in orbit. But the time may finally be at hand for skeptics to begin accepting smaller.


Boeing Exec: 10K Layoffs Possible

Boeing’s Shaw Warns Of Space Job Cuts
Aviation Week

The ‘big five’ US space companies could lose up to 10,000 jobs over the next few years unless the government accelerates procurement of first elements of the Constellation family’s Ares V and Altair programs, warns Boeing’s Space Exploration division head Brewster Shaw.


Air Force to Issue RFI for Hypersonic X Plane Work

Plans for Future Re-usable Space Launch X-plane Hatched
Aviation Week

The Air Force Research Laboratory expects to issue a request for information (rfi) “any day now” to industry for a wide spread of structures, systems and control technology that could be used as a the basis for a hypersonic, responsive space launch vehicle X-plane demonstrator.


JAXA Reschedules H-IIB Test Firing for April 1 (No Fooling)


The First Captive Firing Test for the First Stage Flight Model Tank for the H-IIB Launch Vehicle

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. postponed the first captive firing test (CFT) on March 27, 2009 (all times and dates are Japan Standard Time) at the Tanegashima Space Center due to an abnormal phenomenon in the coolant supply. Abnormal phenomenon: Coolant, which is supposed to pour and sprinkle for protecting the facilities and surrounding area when the launch vehicle engine is fired, did not pour and sprinkle.


Mars500 Experiment Begins in Moscow


Earlier today, a crew of six, including two ESA-selected participants and four Russians, embarked on a simulated mission to Mars. Although they will not leave the confines of a dedicated isolation facility in Moscow for 105 days, their mission will help prepare for a real human mission to Mars in the future.


U.S. Military Concerned About Attacks on Space Assets

‘Space as a contested environment’ debuts
by Capt. Ben Sakrisson
Air University Public Affairs
Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base

A new Special Area of Emphasis topic titled “Space as a Contested Environment,” was introduced by U.S. military officials here March 30 at the 25th National Space Symposium.

Special Areas of Emphasis are established by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, to address areas of great importance to the joint military community. This SAE highlights the space domain’s emergence as an environment where U.S. operations and superiority maybe challenged.


Pentagon Plans to Track 800 Satellites to Avoid Collisions

U.S. military vows to track 800 satellites by October 1

Spurred by last month’s collision of two satellites high above the Earth, the U.S. military plans to begin tracking all 800 maneuverable spacecraft currently operating in space by October 1, a senior U.S. Air Force official said on Monday.


China Shenzhou 7 Team Accepts 2009 Space Achievement Award in Colorado

China’s manned space flight team rewarded U.S. Space Achievement Award

The team of China’s Shenzhou-7 manned space flight mission, which marked a number of “firsts” for the Chinese space program in a single mission, was rewarded Monday the 2009 Space Achievement Award from the U.S. Space Foundation.

A delegation from China led by Dr. Zhou Jianping, chief designer of the China Manned Space Program, and Taikonaut Zhai Zhigang accepted the award at the opening ceremony of the 25th National Space Symposium, a Space Foundation-sponsored annual gathering of the global space community, in Colorado Springs.


AIA Supports Babbitt’s Nomination as FAA Admin

Statement by Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO Marion Blakey on Nomination of Randy Babbitt as FAA Administrator

Randy Babbitt is an excellent choice to head the Federal Aviation Administration. He has a passion for the industry and brings to the FAA years of aviation experience as a pilot, labor negotiator and safety expert. There are many critical issues waiting at the helm for a new administrator, including expediting NextGen – the transformation of our air transportation system. In 1995 Congress established a five-year term for the FAA Administrator to provide continuity necessary for an agency that is focused on safety and complicated operational responsibilities. By moving quickly on Mr. Babbitt’s confirmation, the Senate will provide the much-needed stability for our nation’s air transportation system.