WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — A NASA team has successfully demonstrated the handling and loading of a new-fangled, Swedish-developed “green propellant” that smells like glass cleaner, looks like chardonnay, but has proven powerful enough to propel a satellite.
Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski announced on Monday that she would not be seeking a sixth term next year, bringing a 40-year Congressional career to an end and depriving NASA of one of its most powerful supporters.
Mikulski, 78, said she would rather spend the next two years working on behalf of her constituents rather than raising money and running for re-election. She has served in the Senate since 1987 following a 10-year stint representing Maryland’s 3rd District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Mikulski is the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the committee’s Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) subcommittee, which oversees NASA’s budget. She headed the Appropriations Committee from December 2012 until January 2015.
After years of flat and declining budgets, it looks like NASA will get a funding boost this year from an unexpected source — Congress.
The FY 2015 budget measures coming out of the Senate and House actually boost the President’s proposed $17.46 billion spending plan by about $400 million. The Senate would spend an even $17.9 billion, while the House spending plan is just slight under that level at $17.896 billion.
WALLOPS ISLAND, VA (Orbital PR) — While all eyes have been on Antares in the recent weeks, our Cygnus spacecraft has achieved many significant firsts as it prepares for its maiden voyage to the International Space Station. After initial cargo installation at Wallops Flight Facility building H-100 and the first-time mating of the Cygnus Service and Cargo Modules, Cygnus completed its next milestone by completing its Launch-Site Integrated Systems Test and its transfer from the Wallops Main Base to the Wallops Fueling Facility, on Wallops Island, just north of the Antares launch site.
The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VCSFA) has issued a Strategic Plan [Download PDF] that calls for the development of Wallops Island as a multi-user spaceport focused on small and medium-lift rockets to supplement existing launches and future Antares cargo flights to the International Space Station.
“The VCSFA’s location and capabilities are ideal for small and medium-lift launches,” according to the report, which covers the years 2012-17. “Although ISS resupply missions are growing, VCSFA intends to look to additional commercial launches, including the areas of defense and national security. The near-term focus is on expanding medium-lift launches as the market outlook is favorable.”
Virginians are pushing back against efforts by Florida to maintain its monopoly on human spaceflight missions. Jack Kennedy, a prominent backer of commercial space in Virginia, sent the following email to supporters on Saturday:
“Space Florida is getting really aggressive and negative to the possibility of human commercial space launch from Wallops Island, Virginia.
“I strongly urge you to communicate with Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Congressman Frank Wolf and Senator Mark Warner, in particular. ASK that they call upon Boeing to openly pledge to launch the Atlas-V from Virginia under the NASA Commercial Crew program by 2015.
“Your e-Mail, letter, and/or phone call to these three Congressional offices may go a long way to make human space flight from Virginia a reality (especially in the wake of the Florida push back against Virginia’s spaceport).
The core structure of the Taurus II first stage arrived at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Eastern Virginia on Dec 3, 2010. The core structure was manufactured in Ukraine by Orbital’s subcontractor Yuzhmash. After arrival by a transoceanic cargo ship at the Port of Wilmington, DE, it was transported by overland to the NASA Wallops launch site and was off-loaded into Building H-100 where it will undergo checkout and integration testing.