Sunday, April 25, 2010

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Boeing Announces Successful Launch of Secret X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle

According to a Boeing news release, the Boeing-built Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), also known as the X-37B, for the U.S. Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, was launched on an Atlas V rocket into a low Earth orbit today at 7:52 p.m. Eastern time from Cape Canaveral Launch Complex 41. The vehicle will be used to demonstrate a reliable, reusable unmanned space test platform for the Air Force.

Dennis Muilenburg, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, noted, "With the ability to be launched into space and then land on its own, the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle is an example of the kind of innovation that Boeing has been doing for decades to advance aviation, space systems, and now unmanned systems. Close teamwork between the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, the United Launch Alliance Atlas team, and the 45th Space Wing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station made this launch a success."

"The Orbital Test Vehicle combines the best of aircraft and spacecraft to enable flexible and responsive missions," said Paul Rusnock, Boeing vice president of Experimental Systems and program director for the X-37B. "This first flight will demonstrate the readiness of the X-37B to begin serving the Air Force as it continues to investigate ways to make space access more routine, affordable and responsive."

(Thanks to Boeing for information provided in this article).

Sitings: McDonnell F-101B Voodoo 58-0281 at Spirit of St. Louis Airport

Sitings: McDonnell Douglas QF-4E 73-1167 at Scott AFB

Thursday, April 15, 2010

President's Space Policy Speech Transcript with Commentary...By Me

Here are my comments concerning the president's space policy speech. Unlike President Kennedy's speech, there are no memorable lines or any hints of American Exceptionalism, only lofty platitudes and foggy visions. According to the current Science Czar, the U.S. can't be number one forever, and so we have given up space leadership as well. My comments are not (just) cheap shots, but unanswered questions.


April 15, 2010


John F. Kennedy Space Center

Merritt Island, Florida

2:55 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Thank you, everybody. Please have a seat. Thank you.

I want to thank Senator Bill Nelson and NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden for their extraordinary leadership. I want to recognize Dr. Buzz Aldrin as well, who’s in the house. (Applause.) Four decades ago, Buzz became a legend. But in the four decades since he’s also been one of America’s leading visionaries and authorities on human space flight.

Buzz Aldrin, always looking for a spot on stage with the power structure, is on hand to lend credibility to the new plan. He is also a "consultant" with much at stake in any future programs.

Few people -- present company excluded -- can claim the expertise of Buzz and Bill and Charlie when it comes to space exploration. I have to say that few people are as singularly unimpressed by Air Force One as those three. (Laughter.) Sure, it’s comfortable, but it can’t even reach low Earth orbit. And that obviously is in striking contrast to the Falcon 9 rocket we just saw on the launch pad, which will be tested for the very first time in the coming weeks.

"My experts are better than yours." Better than Armstrong, Cernan and Lovell? Maybe not.

A couple of other acknowledgments I want to make. We’ve got Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee from Texas visiting us, a big supporter of the space program. (Applause.) My director, Office of Science and Technology Policy -- in other words my chief science advisor -- John Holdren is here. (Applause.) And most of all I want to acknowledge your congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas, because every time I meet with her, including the flight down here, she reminds me of how important our NASA programs are and how important this facility is. And she is fighting for every single one of you and for her district and for the jobs in her district. And you should know that you’ve got a great champion in Congresswoman Kosmas. Please give her a big round of applause. (Applause.)

Rep. Lee is from Houston, TX, not Florida. She was a Hillary Clinton supporter in the primaries, and is running against a Democrat challenger. Suddenly Lee and Obama are best of friends.

I also want to thank everybody for participating in today’s conference. And gathered here are scientists, engineers, business leaders, public servants, and a few more astronauts as well. Last but not least, I want to thank the men and women of NASA for welcoming me to the Kennedy Space Center, and for your contributions not only to America, but to the world.

Insinuating that all of NASA is behind his proposals because they attended. Money spent on the event could have funded more scientists to complete the plans for a moon landing.

Here at the Kennedy Space Center we are surrounded by monuments and milestones of those contributions. It was from here that NASA launched the missions of Mercury and Gemini and Apollo. It was from here that Space Shuttle Discovery, piloted by Charlie Bolden, carried the Hubble Telescope into orbit, allowing us to plumb the deepest recesses of our galaxy. And I should point out, by the way, that in my private office just off the Oval, I’ve got the picture of Jupiter from the Hubble. So thank you, Charlie, for helping to decorate my office. (Laughter.) It was from here that men and women, propelled by sheer nerve and talent, set about pushing the boundaries of humanity’s reach.

Blasts from the past - the golden age. Even without the Space Shuttle, these achievements are no longer possible. We no longer have a national mission in space.

That’s the story of NASA. And it’s a story that started a little more than half a century ago, far from the Space Coast, in a remote and desolate region of what is now called Kazakhstan. Because it was from there that the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth, which was little more than a few pieces of metal with a transmitter and a battery strapped to the top of a missile. But the world was stunned. Americans were dumbfounded. The Soviets, it was perceived, had taken the lead in a race for which we were not yet fully prepared.

But we caught up very quick. President Eisenhower signed legislation to create NASA and to invest in science and math education, from grade school to graduate school. In 1961, President Kennedy boldly declared before a joint session of Congress that the United States would send a man to the Moon and return him safely to the Earth within the decade. And as a nation, we set about meeting that goal, reaping rewards that have in the decades since touched every facet of our lives. NASA was at the forefront. Many gave their careers to the effort. And some have given far more.

That was put in motion by LEADERS, who no longer reside in our government.

In the years that have followed, the space race inspired a generation of scientists and innovators, including, I’m sure, many of you. It’s contributed to immeasurable technological advances that have improved our health and well-being, from satellite navigation to water purification, from aerospace manufacturing to medical imaging. Although, I have to say, during a meeting right before I came out on stage somebody said, you know, it’s more than just Tang -- and I had to point out I actually really like Tang. (Laughter.) I thought that was very cool.

And leading the world to space helped America achieve new heights of prosperity here on Earth, while demonstrating the power of a free and open society to harness the ingenuity of its people.

And on a personal note, I have been part of that generation so inspired by the space program. 1961 was the year of my birth -- the year that Kennedy made his announcement. And one of my earliest memories is sitting on my grandfather’s shoulders, waving a flag as astronauts arrived in Hawaii. For me, the space program has always captured an essential part of what it means to be an American -- reaching for new heights, stretching beyond what previously did not seem possible. And so, as President, I believe that space exploration is not a luxury, it’s not an afterthought in America’s quest for a brighter future -- it is an essential part of that quest.

Being born does not make you a contributor.

So today, I’d like to talk about the next chapter in this story. The challenges facing our space program are different, and our imperatives for this program are different, than in decades past. We’re no longer racing against an adversary. We’re no longer competing to achieve a singular goal like reaching the Moon. In fact, what was once a global competition has long since become a global collaboration. But while the measure of our achievements has changed a great deal over the past 50 years, what we do -- or fail to do -- in seeking new frontiers is no less consequential for our future in space and here on Earth.

This is false. The Chinese and Russians will take advantage of us by moving ahead and not being benevolent to our needs – why should they? These nations have a history of "collaboration" when it is to their advantage, but then turning on the weaker partner when in a position of strength. The Chinese and Russians will surely continue their manned space programs and garner friends across the globe as they achieve their space milestones. In this case, "Been there, done that" is no longer impressive. "Why can't you do it any more?" will be the more appropriate question for the U.S. We will have no answer.

So let me start by being extremely clear: I am 100 percent committed to the mission of NASA and its future. (Applause.) Because broadening our capabilities in space will continue to serve our society in ways that we can scarcely imagine. Because exploration will once more inspire wonder in a new generation -- sparking passions and launching careers. And because, ultimately, if we fail to press forward in the pursuit of discovery, we are ceding our future and we are ceding that essential element of the American character.

If taken in context of the previous paragraph, we are but one of many participants in a world effort to explore space. We will subordinate U.S. interests to those of the collective world achievement, rather than the U.S. raising the standards for all through superior scientific accomplishment. We are already doing this in the fields of diplomacy, nuclear weapons, aerospace industry, health care, global warming/climate change/whatever it is called today, etc. Why not also space exploration?

I know there have been a number of questions raised about my administration’s plan for space exploration, especially in this part of Florida where so many rely on NASA as a source of income as well as a source of pride and community. And these questions come at a time of transition, as the space shuttle nears its scheduled retirement after almost 30 years of service. And understandably, this adds to the worries of folks concerned not only about their own futures but about the future of the space program to which they’ve devoted their lives.

But I also know that underlying these concerns is a deeper worry, one that precedes not only this plan but this administration. It stems from the sense that people in Washington -- driven sometimes less by vision than by politics -- have for years neglected NASA’s mission and undermined the work of the professionals who fulfill it. We’ve seen that in the NASA budget, which has risen and fallen with the political winds.

Blame it on Bush moment. This time he is partly correct.

But we can also see it in other ways: in the reluctance of those who hold office to set clear, achievable objectives; to provide the resources to meet those objectives; and to justify not just these plans but the larger purpose of space exploration in the 21st century.

All that has to change. And with the strategy I’m outlining today, it will. We start by increasing NASA’s budget by $6 billion over the next five years, even -- (applause) -- I want people to understand the context of this. This is happening even as we have instituted a freeze on discretionary spending and sought to make cuts elsewhere in the budget.

Aimless spending does not a mission make. Throw up some money, and they will come. Where is the "strategy" part?

So NASA, from the start, several months ago when I issued my budget, was one of the areas where we didn’t just maintain a freeze but we actually increased funding by $6 billion. By doing that we will ramp up robotic exploration of the solar system, including a probe of the Sun’s atmosphere; new scouting missions to Mars and other destinations; and an advanced telescope to follow Hubble, allowing us to peer deeper into the universe than ever before.

No manned missions here – these are not the most expensive programs and can be bought easily.

We will increase Earth-based observation to improve our understanding of our climate and our world -- science that will garner tangible benefits, helping us to protect our environment for future generations.

Not important – serves another agenda that has been ridiculed – while polluters continue in...China and Russia! Go figure.

And we will extend the life of the International Space Station likely by more than five years, while actually using it for its intended purpose: conducting advanced research that can help improve the daily lives of people here on Earth, as well as testing and improving upon our capabilities in space. This includes technologies like more efficient life support systems that will help reduce the cost of future missions. And in order to reach the space station, we will work with a growing array of private companies competing to make getting to space easier and more affordable. (Applause.)

Who will fund private R&D and focus it like the national space programs in other countries? Are we basing our manned space program on private space tourism? Are you kidding?

Now, I recognize that some have said it is unfeasible or unwise to work with the private sector in this way. I disagree. The truth is, NASA has always relied on private industry to help design and build the vehicles that carry astronauts to space, from the Mercury capsule that carried John Glenn into orbit nearly 50 years ago, to the space shuttle Discovery currently orbiting overhead. By buying the services of space transportation -- rather than the vehicles themselves -- we can continue to ensure rigorous safety standards are met. But we will also accelerate the pace of innovations as companies -- from young startups to established leaders -- compete to design and build and launch new means of carrying people and materials out of our atmosphere.

Red herring. There have always been private contractors that produce the equipment, but there must be be a national manned space program to focus our resources to coordinate all programs. It takes more than just giving grants to favored Congressional Districts (although this has always been the case) to succeed in space exploration.

In addition, as part of this effort, we will build on the good work already done on the Orion crew capsule. I’ve directed Charlie Bolden to immediately begin developing a rescue vehicle using this technology, so we are not forced to rely on foreign providers if it becomes necessary to quickly bring our people home from the International Space Station. And this Orion effort will be part of the technological foundation for advanced spacecraft to be used in future deep space missions. In fact, Orion will be readied for flight right here in this room. (Applause.)

This attempts to soften the blow of the political uproar in response to cancelling the next manned space vehicle. The main command module now becomes a smaller scale life boat like the 1960s RUSSIAN Soyuz now used to access the ISS. This is not much of a consolation, but is being claimed as a revitalization of the Orion space program. What vision!

Next, we will invest more than $3 billion to conduct research on an advanced “heavy lift rocket” -- a vehicle to efficiently send into orbit the crew capsules, propulsion systems, and large quantities of supplies needed to reach deep space. In developing this new vehicle, we will not only look at revising or modifying older models; we want to look at new designs, new materials, new technologies that will transform not just where we can go but what we can do when we get there. And we will finalize a rocket design no later than 2015 and then begin to build it. (Applause.) And I want everybody to understand: That’s at least two years earlier than previously planned -- and that’s conservative, given that the previous program was behind schedule and over budget.

What is the use for a heavy lift rocket that will be studied for the next 5 years? Are we going somewhere? In the mean time, do we think the ISS can be maintained using RUSSIAN Soyuz? What crew capsules – rescue ship Orion? This is a rocket without a mission, and the Orion is a rescue capsule without a crew.

At the same time, after decades of neglect, we will increase investment -- right away -- in other groundbreaking technologies that will allow astronauts to reach space sooner and more often, to travel farther and faster for less cost, and to live and work in space for longer periods of time more safely. That means tackling major scientific and technological challenges. How do we shield astronauts from radiation on longer missions? How do we harness resources on distant worlds? How do we supply spacecraft with energy needed for these far-reaching journeys? These are questions that we can answer and will answer. And these are the questions whose answers no doubt will reap untold benefits right here on Earth.

This means nothing. We would do this anyway, and better and faster with an actual mission in mind.

So the point is what we’re looking for is not just to continue on the same path -- we want to leap into the future; we want major breakthroughs; a transformative agenda for NASA. (Applause.)

This means nothing. Smoke...fog...

Now, yes, pursuing this new strategy will require that we revise the old strategy. In part, this is because the old strategy -- including the Constellation program -- was not fulfilling its promise in many ways. That’s not just my assessment; that’s also the assessment of a panel of respected non-partisan experts charged with looking at these issues closely. Now, despite this, some have had harsh words for the decisions we’ve made, including some individuals who I’ve got enormous respect and admiration for.

What strategy? Still waiting for that one. This “panel” handed over the required results - the inevitable Orion cancellation. Does he really admire Armstrong, Cernan and lovell? Why didn't he check with them earlier?

But what I hope is, is that everybody will take a look at what we are planning, consider the details of what we’ve laid out, and see the merits as I’ve described them. The bottom line is nobody is more committed to manned space flight, to human exploration of space than I am. (Applause.) But we’ve got to do it in a smart way, and we can’t just keep on doing the same old things that we’ve been doing and thinking that somehow is going to get us to where we want to go.

There are no details to examine. The "smart" way is to rely on the RUSSIANS and CHINESE without a program that keeps the U.S. as the premier space exploration nation. Good luck with that one. See below.

Some have said, for instance, that this plan gives up our leadership in space by failing to produce plans within NASA to reach low Earth orbit, instead of relying on companies and other countries. But we will actually reach space faster and more often under this new plan, in ways that will help us improve our technological capacity and lower our costs, which are both essential for the long-term sustainability of space flight. In fact, through our plan, we’ll be sending many more astronauts to space over the next decade. (Applause.)

How, with a rescue craft? Again, no details supporting this new Wonderland.

There are also those who criticized our decision to end parts of Constellation as one that will hinder space exploration below [sic] low Earth orbit. But it’s precisely by investing in groundbreaking research and innovative companies that we will have the potential to rapidly transform our capabilities -- even as we build on the important work already completed, through projects like Orion, for future missions. And unlike the previous program, we are setting a course with specific and achievable milestones.

Like what? A SUPER DUPER rescue craft? This is incoherent and baseless.

Early in the next decade, a set of crewed flights will test and prove the systems required for exploration beyond low Earth orbit. (Applause.) And by 2025, we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the Moon into deep space. (Applause.) So we’ll start -- we’ll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history. (Applause.) By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it. (Applause.)

In the NEXT decade? That’s 9+ years away! What besides a rescue craft will we use? In 20 years, the CHINESE and RUSSIANS will be on the moon waving to us in our rescue craft.

But I want to repeat -- I want to repeat this: Critical to deep space exploration will be the development of breakthrough propulsion systems and other advanced technologies. So I’m challenging NASA to break through these barriers. And we’ll give you the resources to break through these barriers. And I know you will, with ingenuity and intensity, because that’s what you’ve always done. (Applause.)

I repeat - what are you talking about? A $6 billion aimless R&D boondoggle?

Now, I understand that some believe that we should attempt a return to the surface of the Moon first, as previously planned. But I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We’ve been there before. Buzz has been there. There’s a lot more of space to explore, and a lot more to learn when we do. So I believe it’s more important to ramp up our capabilities to reach -- and operate at -- a series of increasingly demanding targets, while advancing our technological capabilities with each step forward. And that’s what this strategy does. And that’s how we will ensure that our leadership in space is even stronger in this new century than it was in the last. (Applause.)

Going back to the moon is a real stepping stone towards reaching other planets and deep space. Other nations will do it and reap the benefits. We will have no manned space program for 10-20 years – how will we get farther than the moon? We will still be in the rocket lab when the CHINESE and the RUSSIANS bring back minerals from the moon and use it as a base to go to other planets...or just blast our satellites, scramble our communications...whatever.

Finally, I want to say a few words about jobs. Suzanne pointed out to me that the last time I was here, I made a very clear promise that I would help in the transition into a new program to make sure that people who are already going through a tough time here in this region were helped. And despite some reports to the contrary, my plan will add more than 2,500 jobs along the Space Coast in the next two years compared to the plan under the previous administration. So I want to make that point. (Applause.)

Blame Bush, Part II. He blatently plays the jobs bribe card and invents 2500 new jobs (added or saved?). Now that is motivating.

We’re going to modernize the Kennedy Space Center, creating jobs as we upgrade launch facilities. And there’s potential for even more jobs as companies in Florida and across America compete to be part of a new space transportation industry. And some of those industry leaders are here today. This holds the promise of generating more than 10,000 jobs nationwide over the next few years. And many of these jobs will be created right here in Florida because this is an area primed to lead in this competition.

How? What is this mystery program?

Now, it’s true -- there are Floridians who will see their work on the shuttle end as the program winds down. This is based on a decision that was made six years ago, not six months ago, but that doesn’t make it any less painful for families and communities affected as this decision becomes reality.

Blame Bush, Part III. The shuttle could have continued until a new program came to replace it.

So I’m proposing -- in part because of strong lobbying by Bill and by Suzanne, as well as Charlie -- I’m proposing a $40 million initiative led by a high-level team from the White House, NASA, and other agencies to develop a plan for regional economic growth and job creation. And I expect this plan to reach my desk by August 15th. (Applause.) It’s an effort that will help prepare this already skilled workforce for new opportunities in the space industry and beyond.

More bureaucratic thinking money that will put a consulting company to work at government expense. How many engineers would that pay to finish Orion?

So this is the next chapter that we can write together here at NASA. We will partner with industry. We will invest in cutting-edge research and technology. We will set far-reaching milestones and provide the resources to reach those milestones. And step by step, we will push the boundaries not only of where we can go but what we can do.

Still nothing.

Fifty years after the creation of NASA, our goal is no longer just a destination to reach. Our goal is the capacity for people to work and learn and operate and live safely beyond the Earth for extended periods of time, ultimately in ways that are more sustainable and even indefinite. And in fulfilling this task, we will not only extend humanity’s reach in space -- we will strengthen America’s leadership here on Earth.

We can’t even get back to the moon or live on the ISS past 6 months. This is a (foggy) vision, not a goal. There can be many goals within the vision, but none besides downgrading Orion to a rescue ship have emerged.

Now, I’ll close by saying this. I know that some Americans have asked a question that’s particularly apt on Tax Day: Why spend money on NASA at all? Why spend money solving problems in space when we don’t lack for problems to solve here on the ground? And obviously our country is still reeling from the worst economic turmoil we’ve known in generations. We have massive structural deficits that have to be closed in the coming years.

Red Herring Alert!! It’s better than nothing is not an argument for a successful program.

But you and I know this is a false choice. We have to fix our economy. We need to close our deficits. But for pennies on the dollar, the space program has fueled jobs and entire industries. For pennies on the dollar, the space program has improved our lives, advanced our society, strengthened our economy, and inspired generations of Americans. And I have no doubt that NASA can continue to fulfill this role. (Applause.) But that is why -- but I want to say clearly to those of you who work for NASA, but to the entire community that has been so supportive of the space program in this area: That is exactly why it’s so essential that we pursue a new course and that we revitalize NASA and its mission -- not just with dollars, but with clear aims and a larger purpose.

The Space program is nothing compared to debt and social welfare commitments.

Now, little more than 40 years ago, astronauts descended the nine-rung ladder of the lunar module called Eagle, and allowed their feet to touch the dusty surface of the Earth’s only Moon. This was the culmination of a daring and perilous gambit -- of an endeavor that pushed the boundaries of our knowledge, of our technological prowess, of our very capacity as human beings to solve problems. It wasn’t just the greatest achievement in NASA’s history -- it was one of the greatest achievements in human history.

And we can’t repeat it in half the original time. Dis Neil Armstrong. Brilliant!!

And the question for us now is whether that was the beginning of something or the end of something. I choose to believe it was only the beginning.

...of an endless money pit.

So thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America. Thank you. (Applause.)

Now go back to work...while you have a job!

Armstrong, Cernan and Lovell Blast Cancellation of Constellation Program

Three legendary astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Eugene Cernan and James Lovell, wrote an open letter to the president this week to express their regrets about the apparent aimlessness of the U.S. space program. Even though there is funding for long-range research projects, there remains an undefined interim period wherein the U.S. has no manned space vehicles and none in development. This situation affects not only the ability to work in space now, but also the ability to sustain a current aerospace industry until the long-term research and development program produces a new project. Ultimately, though, it is a reflection of a national aimlessness that permeates many sectors of American life. Below is the text of the open letter (thanks to

The United States entered into the challenge of space exploration under President Eisenhower’s first term, however, it was the Soviet Union who excelled in those early years. Under the bold vision of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, and with the overwhelming approval of the American people, we rapidly closed the gap in the final third; of the 20th century, and became the world leader in space exploration.

America’s space accomplishments earned the respect and admiration of the world. Science probes were unlocking the secrets of the cosmos; space technology was providing instantaneous worldwide communication; orbital sentinels were helping man understand the vagaries of nature. Above all else, the people around the world were inspired by the human exploration of space and the expanding of man’s frontier. It suggested that what had been thought to be impossible was now within reach. Students were inspired to prepare themselves to be a part of this new age. No government program in modern history has been so effective in motivating the young to do “what has never been done before.”

World leadership in space was not achieved easily. In the first half-century of the space age, our country made a significant financial investment, thousands of Americans dedicated themselves to the effort, and some gave their lives to achieve the dream of a nation. In the latter part of the first half century of the space age, Americans and their international partners focused primarily on exploiting the near frontiers of space with the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station.

As a result of the tragic loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003, it was concluded that our space policy required a new strategic vision. Extensive studies and analysis led to this new mandate: meet our existing commitments, return to our exploration roots, return to the moon, and prepare to venture further outward to the asteroids and to Mars. The program was named “Constellation.” In the ensuing years, this plan was endorsed by two Presidents of different parties and approved by both Democratic and Republican congresses.

The Columbia Accident Board had given NASA a number of recommendations fundamental to the Constellation architecture which were duly incorporated. The Ares rocket family was patterned after the Von Braun Modular concept so essential to the success of the Saturn 1B and the Saturn 5. A number of components in the Ares 1 rocket would become the foundation of the very large heavy lift Ares V, thus reducing the total development costs substantially. After the Ares 1 becomes operational, the only major new components necessary for the Ares V would be the larger propellant tanks to support the heavy lift requirements.

The design and the production of the flight components and infrastructure to implement this vision was well underway. Detailed planning of all the major sectors of the program had begun. Enthusiasm within NASA and throughout the country was very high.

When President Obama recently released his budget for NASA, he proposed a slight increase in total funding, substantial research and technology development, an extension of the International Space Station operation until 2020, long range planning for a new but undefined heavy lift rocket and significant funding for the development of commercial access to low earth orbit.

Although some of these proposals have merit, the accompanying decision to cancel the Constellation program, its Ares 1 and Ares V rockets, and the Orion spacecraft, is devastating.

America’s only path to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station will now be subject to an agreement with Russia to purchase space on their Soyuz (at a price of over 50 million dollars per seat with significant increases expected in the near future) until we have the capacity to provide transportation for ourselves. The availability of a commercial transport to orbit as envisioned in the President’s proposal cannot be predicted with any certainty, but is likely to take substantially longer and be more expensive than we would hope.

It appears that we will have wasted our current $10-plus billion investment in Constellation and, equally importantly, we will have lost the many years required to recreate the equivalent of what we will have discarded.

For The United States, the leading space faring nation for nearly half a century, to be without carriage to low Earth orbit and with no human exploration capability to go beyond Earth orbit for an indeterminate time into the future, destines our nation to become one of second or even third rate stature. While the President’s plan envisages humans traveling away from Earth and perhaps toward Mars at some time in the future, the lack of developed rockets and spacecraft will assure that ability will not be available for many years.

Without the skill and experience that actual spacecraft operation provides, the USA is far too likely to be on a long downhill slide to mediocrity. America must decide if it wishes to remain a leader in space. If it does, we should institute a program which will give us the very best chance of achieving that goal.

Neil Armstrong
Commander, Apollo 11

James Lovell
Commander, Apollo 13

Eugene Cernan
Commander, Apollo 17

(NOTE: We will review today's presidential address on the space program and comment as soon as it is available).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Salute to Veterans Corporation Airshow Press Release


Media Chairman: Nancy Fields

Phone: 573-268-3483


Web Site:

“Allied for Freedom, Always Honoring and Remembering”

Columbia, MO: The Salute to Veterans Corporation invites the public to be our guests at the 22nd Annual Salute to Veterans Airshow over Memorial Day Weekend (May 29-30) at Columbia Regional Airport. Admission is absolutely FREE. The Celebration continues at the Salute to Veterans Parade and Military Ceremony at the Boone County Courthouse on May 31st, Memorial Day, in downtown Columbia, MO. Ten demonstration teams will headline the Salute to Veterans Corporation Weekend Celebration.

Demonstration Teams, Aircraft and Featured Events Include:

The United States Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier Demonstration:

The United States Navy East Coast F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Tactical Demonstration Team:

The United States Air Force A-10 West Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team:

The Heritage Flight with the A-10 Demo Team and a WWII P-38

The United States Army 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles” Parachute Team

The Canadian Armed Forces Parachute Team:

The Aeroshell Aerobatic Demonstration Team:

The WWII USN SNJ Aerobatic Demonstration

The WWI Dawn Patrol

The NASA Dryden Flight Research Center Exhibit

The new and exciting U.S. Army “Strength in Action Tour”

Static Display of Military Aircraft from All Eras

Food, Beverage and Military and Aviation Souvenirs and Memorabilia Tents

Honored Guests and Volunteers Banquet, Saturday, May 29, 5:30PM, Hearne’s Center: Call, Fax or E-mail your reservations to: Kimberly Boyer at: Phone: 573 449-0018; Fax: 573 443-4297; or E-Mail:

Salute to Veterans Parade, 9:55am, Memorial Day, May 31, downtown Columbia

Military Ceremony at the Boone County Court House, Memorial Day, 11am

For further information, visit our website at and click on Airboss Schedule, Aircraft, Demo Teams and Honored Guests.

Please Note: The Celebration should not be referred to as “the Columbia Airshow”, “Columbia’s Memorial Day Airshow”, this “Columbia Event”, “Columbia’s Memorial Day Weekend”, etc., or any other designation that would imply that it is hosted, organized, or anyway produced or sponsored by The City Of Columbia, its Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, or the State Of Missouri. It is presented solely by the Memorial Day Weekend Salute To Veterans Corporation, a private, 501c3, not-for-profit, tax-deductible, educational, Missouri company. The Corporation consists of over 3,000 volunteers and 100 volunteer committee chairmen, none of whom is paid.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sitings: Kelly Adams' Staudacher 300 At Salem, IL Airport 2009 Regionals

Kelly Adams' Staudacher 300D at Salem, IL Airport During Regional Competition. Adams is First Alternate on the U.S. Advanced Aerobatic Team. Best Wishes for 2010!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Boeing Park at Spirit of St. Louis Airport

Boeing Park at Spirit of St. Louis Airport Features an F-101B Voodoo on Display and a Monument to the Fabick Family for their Involvement in the Local Aviation Community:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Airport Sitings: "Solo Lobo" Aero Commander Stopover at Spirit of St. Louis Airport

Airport Sitings: "Solo Lobo" Aero Commander Stopover at Spirit of St. Louis Airport.  N9UB is registered  to Sanborn Map Company of Colorado Springs, CO.  The aircraft is used on a contract basis to provide three dimensional aerial mapping services for government agencies.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Michael Combs Describes His Flight for the Human Spirit in His Own Words

Spirit of St. Louis Airport Hosts Michael Combs and Flight of the Human Spirit! Here are the sights and sounds of his visit, including his message in his own words.

Michael Combs talks about his flight to St. Louis, and his progress so far: :

Michael Combs gives the purpose of the flight, and the message he wishes to convey:

Michael Combs describes the aircraft he is flying:

Michael Combs gives advice on how to achieve your dreams:

Michael and Michele Combs depart the terminal and take off for blue skies:

Spirit of St. Louis Airport Hosts Michael Comb's Flight for the Human Spirit

By Carmelo Turdo

Spirit of St. Louis Airport hosted the fifth leg of Michael Combs' Flight for the Human Spirit this morning at the TAC Air terminal. Michael and his wife Michele are on a 50-state, 19,000 mile U.S. tour in a Remos GX light sport aircraft to encourage everyone they meet to follow their dreams. This flight is special not only as a piloting and logistical accomplishment, but more importantly, as a personal triumph that has its roots in near tragedy. In the few minutes that Michael was on the ground with us, he related the purpose of the Flight for the Human Spirit and what he hoped to accomplish along the way.

"I had always wanted to fly - always - and forever had put it off. I became very ill in August of 2003, and it hit me a few months after that as I was recovering that I was never going to fly," Michael explained. "And it weighed on me like a ton of bricks. As I got a little better, there was an article in Popular Mechanics about light sport aircraft industry - it was a new class (of plane) that was coming out - and it buoyed my spirits. And I promised myself that when, not if, but when I get well, I will live my life with no regrets. So that was the beginning of the Flight for the Human Spirit." Michael has since obtained his Light Sport pilot's license and embarked on an airborn mission to tell 20 million people (including you now) that it is never too late to follow your dreams.

And so the flight has begun, and on the second day of the journey, Michael and his wife Michele landed at Spirit of St. Louis Airport at around 10:30am on the fifth leg of the journey, which began this morning in Columbia, MO. "I would not have missed St. Louis - there is so much aviation history here," he said. He described the flight as "smooth and very scenic - one of the best flights I've ever had, I mean ever!" Despite some heavy winds in Kansas City yesterday, the flight is proceeding as planned. Spirit of St. Louis Airport was picked from among the local airports because it was just the right size for a quick refueling stop with a light sport aircraft (he needed 4 gallons to top off). The flight is planned to last 40 flight days, or 63-75 total days. And yes, Michael plans to arrive in Hawaii, though not on his own tank of gas. That leg will be accomplished in the cargo hold of a cargo jet or ship where the folding wings of the Remos will become very useful.

The Remos GX aircraft being used on this flight was the ideal choice. "Remos has had a good customer service history, a lot of good reviews (of the plane) and the folding wings were a big part for the easy accomplishment of this mission. The Remos Team has been fantastic to work with." The aircraft cockpit is fitted with an array of technology, some of which was custom-fitted for this flight. This is not the base model inside the cockpit! After the flight is accomplished, it will be donated to an aviation museum.

Inevitably, our conversation returned to the purpose of the flight, and Michael shared his thoughts on how all of us can make positive strides toward achieving our dreams. "No matter what it is, first and foremost, you've got to believe it," he began. "Once you believe it, you've got to start taking those daily steps. I kept taking those steps, knowing that I was on that path to accomplishment. If you do those simple things, you'll get whatever you want of life. It's never, ever too late!" He left with the thought that we should all continue to encourage others to follow their dreams as well.

Please check Michael's website, for details about the flight and Michael Combs' personal story. Support his cause and make a difference in the lives of others.


"My heart quickened as we approached The Spirit of St. Louis airport. I couldn't help but think of aviation history that had been set not only here, but also around the country. Soon Hope One would be there and St. Louis would have one more event that they could be proud of for years to come. The winds were light and straight down the runway which set me up for a beautifully smooth landing. "Ah...I'm back in my element," I thought as I taxied off of the runway. My landings in Kansas weren't that good yesterday...partly because of the cross winds, but yet it seemed like I just had lost that smooth edge that I had been so dedicated to obtaining over the last few months.

Wes, Phil, and the team at TAC Air were fantastic. They greeted us at the airplane with a warm handshake, and a hearty welcome to St. Louis. They graciously topped off the tank, and helped us with the management to contact when we reached the next TAC Air in Lexington, (thanks TAC Air St. Louis). I was interviewed by Carmelo who was going to put the event on his aviation blog. He had pre-printed photos for me to sign, and even brought his own Sharpie. It was great to meet him as he helped with anything that he could."