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Sunday, January 31, 2010

New Space Direction Press Conferences Set

NASA has released that it will hold to major press events this week to address the new direction for space by means of the presidential proposed budget request to Congress for 2011.

STS-130: Cupola to the Station

STS-130 Endeavour is in a final launch campaign countdown this week taking the Italian-made Cupola to the International Space Station for final installation.

Political Impact: "Just Lost the Geek Vote"

Blogger News Network writer Nancy Reyes provides some political analysis of Monday's expected presidential decision announcement as to a change in the direction of NASA away from the planned 2020 return to the Moon in the piece, "We Just Lost the Geek Vote."

What political impact the high-level presidential decision may have long-term for the president in 2010 mid-term elections and the presidential election of 2012 is yet to be seen, just as the president's formal budget. But Congressional Democrats in Florida [vid] are going to be especially hard pressed in the days ahead with thousands of rocket engineers expected to be sidelined from the state's I-4 economy without a new space agency human launch vehicle being built.

Members of the Congress from Florida, Alabama, Texas will be sounding alarm bells in the coming week on Capitol Hill as Space Shuttle Endeavour takes to a dark morning sky orbit on Super Bowl Sunday from the Kennedy Space Center, if all goes as now planned.

The shuttle is being set upon on the fifth of the final five flights in a program with a nearly 30-year flight history, to be retired prior to year end. The launch and mission will draw some national news attention with the addition of the ISS Cupola [vid] throughout the week. The nation's space program may well be among the pre-game conversation by hundreds of thousands, perhaps even a few million, on February 7th as the 'Bud guys' and the 'keyboard geeks' gather around the television to watch the pig skin rotate and later at post-game water coolers.

The growing longer-term political questions on Capitol Hill will be: 1] 'does the space program have much political impact these days?' 2] 'How will Americans react when some measure of national security realization sets-in that the Chinese and Russians have the only rides for human space access in 2011 -- and there is no space shuttle or Ares replacement?' 3] 'Will Internet-rocketeers heroically save the day with commercial space launches and put Americans back into orbit prior to the 2012 election?' That is when the so-called 'Geek Vote' will really matter strategically -- in several states.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Taurus II Hardware Readied for Wallops

Orbital Sciences Corporation has released information relating to the status of the new Taurus II rocket expected to loft cargo to the International Space Station in the spring of 2011 from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in 2011.

The report notes that the hardware is globalized with supplies in Ukraine, Russia and the United States in final stages of testing prior to the booster configuration and the start of a final launch campaign at a new launch pad at Wallops Island, Virginia. Orbital Sciences Corporation have a contract to launch eight cargo flights to the ISS from Virginia's spaceport.

Virginia is providing Virginia-based commercial space launch firms with state income tax benefits for cargo and other payloads launched to space. In addition thereto, the state has been the 'Change Agent' with regard to human spaceflight liability and immunity.

NASA Sets Commercial Space Stimulation Meeting at NASA HQ for February 16, 10 AM

Published in the Federal Register yesterday was a notice of meeting of the Commercial Space Committee to the NASA Advisory Council set for Tuesday, February 16, 2010, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. EST at NASA Headquarters, 300 E Street, SW., Room 6H45, Washington. The meeting is open to interested persons.

The agenda for the meeting includes an overview of the intended objectives for the Commercial Space Committee and preliminary discussions on some of the topic areas that will be explored by the Committee in future meetings. These topic areas include but are not limited to exploring opportunities to stimulate and encourage commercial space as well as the progression of commercial capability to the ISS and to Low Earth Orbit/LEO.

The committee will explore opportunities for interagency collaboration on commercial space initiatives, and fostering commercialization on the International Space Station as a National Lab. [Hat tip to Fred McKee]

Musk Speaks to Falcon 9 Safety

Friday, January 29, 2010

NASA Budget Conference Monday with Bolden: Commercial Space Launch Accepted

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will brief reporters about the agency's fiscal year 2011 budget at 3 p.m. EST on Monday, Feb. 1. The news conference will take place in the James E. Webb Memorial Auditorium at NASA Headquarters, located at 300 E St. S.W., in Washington.

The news conference will be broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency's Web site. Questions will be taken from media representatives at headquarters and participating field centers. NASA budget and supporting documents will be here at 12:30 PM, Monday, Feb. 1, 2010.

Varied reports indicate that the President will pledge $6-billion to commercial space launch development and increase NASA's operational budget over the next five years in his proposed federal budget. The Constellation Ares-1 and Ares-V moon landing program is expected to end if his proposal is adopted by the Congress. Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin was especially critical today comparing President Obama's space policy to that of Richard Nixon cancelling Apollo.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

White House: Ares-1 is Dead

Ever heard of Wallops Island?

Virginia State Delegate Lynwood Lewis (D-Accomack Co) recently took to the Virginia House of Delegates floor to cited a recent commentary entitled: Space Race: Florida vs. Virginia written by Barney Bishop, president of Associated Industries of Florida. While competition among the Atlantic coastal states may be interesting and even fun, the cause of both states remains the same: building the infrastructure and the skilled workforce for the United States to have space access in the next decade.

Meanwhile, State Delegate Terry G. Kilgore (R-Scott County) has obtained House passage of a measure removing the sunset clause on the Spaceflight Liability and Immunity Act passed first by Virginia in 2007 and signed into state law. State Senator Ralph S. Northam has obtained Senate passage of a similar measure. Passage of both bills now assure removal of the sunset clause.

No Human Moon Landing in This Decade!

Today many lunar landing advocates must feel the same way as Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell as he pasted by the Moon failing to fulfill his dream of walking on the lunar surface in the pursuit of science.

With the next federal budget to be submitted by the President February 1, 2010, there will be no human return to the Moon in this decade leaving potentially ten thousand talented NASA space workers scrambling for private sector NewSpace jobs in the proposed $6-billion commercial space launch program, potentially with future American astronauts.

The last time American astronauts left Earth orbit was aboard Apollo 17 in 1972. It is now unclear how many years - even decades - it will be before American astronauts will be on an Earth departure trajectory again as the President and the Congress chart the course ahead in space.

Most of the children of Apollo will not be around to bear witness to the second return to the Moon by American astronauts. The best hope for a human return to the Moon in the decade of 2020 may now rest with the Chinese. Nonetheless, a new era is opening in American space with the commercial space launch sector.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Research Center Seeks to Develop Fusion Energy for Electric Power in Wise

AVRC has been awarded a contract by Wise County's Industrial Development Authority to manage a $7 million energy research center now under construction in the Lonesome Pine Business and Technology Park in Wise, VA. One of many alternative energy projects that they expect to develop is inertial electrostatic confinement (IEC) aneutronic fusion energy. The energy research center is called the Appalachia America Energy Research Center, and IEC fusion is only one of several projects they are developing in a significant energy technology portfolio.

Plans are in the works to conduct a multimillion-dollar research project in Wise to develop fusion technology into an economic source for everything from electricity to medical applications. Invented by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Dr. George Miley, the process involves pumping aerosol boron plasma into a spherical container where it is made very, very hot. The atoms begin to fuse, creating energy.

The project will start small, with about 6-8 researchers, and could employ 20-28 researchers within 18 months. If the project becomes commercially viable, it could move to a bigger location and could grow to employ up to 100 people and involve four major research universities. The initial fusion research proposed is $3.5 million.

With offices in Raleigh, NC and headquarters in Danville, VA, the Advanced Vehicle Research Center has been involved in the transportation energy sector since 2001.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

No Chinese Spacewalks Planned at Tiangong

The Chinese Tiangong-1 space lab is expected to be launched to low erath orbit in late 2010 or 2011 as a part of an expanding human space effort. A human-rated Shenzhou 9 spacecraft will be launched to the space lab following an unmanned Shenzhou 8 rendezvous and docking. But there will be no planned Chinese taikonaut spacewalks planned with the Tiangong-1 space lab and its crew, according to a report published by Space Daily.

This Blogger previously suggested a joint Chinese-Russian-US mission to the planned space lab that would have included a spacewalk in 2012. The Chinese will launch their fourth human-rated mission in 2011 with an anticipated crew of three. Many believe that the Chinese will attempt a human landing on the Moon by 2022.

White House Has DECIDED to Outsource Astronaut Rides to Space to Private Firms

The Wall Street Journal is reporting Sunday evening that the White House has decided to begin funding private companies to carry NASA astronauts into space, but the proposal faces major political and budget hurdles, according to people familiar with the matter.

The controversial proposal, expected to be included in the Obama administration's next budget, would open a new chapter in the U.S. space program. The goal is to set up a multiyear, multi-billion-dollar initiative allowing private firms, including some start-ups, to compete to build and operate spacecraft capable of ferrying U.S. astronauts into orbit—and eventually deeper into the solar system. More ->

Virginia Spaceport Has Hiring Growth

Virginia's Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) is growing and is expected to start adding a few hundred jobs in support of commercial spaceport launch pad and support facilities construction for a lunar spaceprobe and several cargo missions to the International Space Station beginning in 2011. MARS is only one of four commercial spaceports with launch-to-orbit capability in the United States today.

Spaceport Support Services, a small prime contractor located in Selbyville Delaware, provides engineering services to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia and is now hiring an engineer to develop work process designs, cost estimates, and resolve problems involving both facilities and operations. Responsibilities include studying requirements to determine facility and functional responsibilities of workers, coordination, review and development of schedules and work plans, along with review and oversight of hazardous procedures to ensure worker and site safety.

Orbital Sciences Corporation is expected to hire several rocket scientists, engineers, and project managers to support the $1.9 billion NASA launch contract to re-supply cargo to the space stationin addition to the planned NASA-sponsored lunar mission. Virginia has issued $26-million in bonds to support a second commercial spaceport launch pad.

The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VCSFA) is now in the final process of hiring a new Deputy Director to assist in the rapidly growing commercial spaceport operations and launch pad construction. The job was announced some several weeks ago with the final hire expected to made within the next month. Dr. Billie Reed serves as the Executive Director of the VCSFA managing the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport operations. Reed is expected to hire other support staff in 2010.

The NASA Wallops Flight Facility recently engaged William Wrobel as the new director to advance the space agency's interests at the Virginia Eastern Shore facility. His background includes work with Orbital Sciences Corporation.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Puffin: An Electric VTOL Personal Air Vehicle Concept Is Revolutionary Transport

Concept-engineered by NASA in cooperation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the National Institute of Aerospace, and M-DOT Aerospace, the Puffin aircraft design shows just how far personal, electrically propelled flight could change the ways we live and get around, according to Scientific American.

The Puffin features vertical-takeoff and landing capability. But rather than tilting the rotors forward for horizontal flight, the whole craft — cockpit and all — pitches forward, meaning the pilot flies from a prone position. During takeoff and landing the tail splits into four legs that serve as landing gear, and flaps on the wings deploy to keep the aircraft stable as it lifts and descends. When landing, the extending spring legs would support the 3.7-meter-long, 4.1-meter-wingspan craft, which is designed with carbon-fiber composites to weigh in at 135 kilograms, not including 45 kilograms of rechargeable lithium phosphate batteries.

In theory Puffin’s can cruise at 150 miles per hour (240 km/h) and peak at more like 300 miles per hour 480 km/h). Puffin’s range would be the most limiting characteristic, at just 50 miles, but that's simply a matter of battery density. Batteries are growing more dense by the day, so in coming years that range could be drastically improved. [Hat Tip to Richard Dell, Jr.]

Planetary Science WebEx Telecon Set

The Planetary Science Subcommittee of the NASA Advisory Council will take place telephonically and by WebEx. The meeting will take place 3 February 2010 from 11AM until 1PM EST.

The meeting will be open to the public. Any interested person may call the USA toll free conference call number (866) 844-9416, passcode PSS, to participate in this meeting by telephone. The WebExlink is, meeting number 993131217, and password PS$M33ting. International callers may contact Ms. Marian Norris( for country-specific conference call numbers.

'Space Diver' Attempt Planned

Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner will attempt a 'space dive' to seek to top the nearly 50-year-old record for the highest jump this year, becoming the first person to go supersonic in freefall using a helium balloon.

Potentially breaking records for the highest parachute jump, as well as the fastest and longest freefall, Baumgartner should reach supersonic speeds 35 seconds after he jumps. The jump height is above a threshold at 19,000 metres called the Armstrong line, where the atmospheric pressure is so low that fluids start to boil, according to a report in New Scientist.

In recent years, there has been a lot of discussion among NewSpace advocates of a 'Spacediver' attempt by blasting off on a small rocket booster to the edge of space and then the human spacediver jumping back to Earth. The current record is held by US Air Force Captain Joe Kittinger by jumping out of a balloon at an altitude of some 31,333 metres on August 16, 1960 near White Sands, New Mexico.

WISE Finds New NEO

NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has spotted its first never-before-seen near-Earth asteroid, the first of hundreds it is expected to find during its mission to map the whole sky in infrared light, according to a NASA statement. WISE is expected to find hundreds of new asteroids during the mission.

Meanwhile, a National Research Council report released Friday said the Congress and the President have not requested or appropriated funding to complete a survey mandated in the NASA Authorization Act of 2005 reports SpaceFlightNow, ScienceInsider, The Daily Telegraph, Scientific American, and NPR.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Shape of Jobs to Come by 2030 Studied

Advocates of The Space Frontier Foundation are pointing to a future trends research study commissioned by the British Department for Business, Innovation & Skills as part of a government’s campaign to promote science entitled "The Shape of Jobs to Come" seeking to identify trends in careers over the next twenty (20) years.

Fast Future consulted a series of futurists and trend predictors as well as examining recent science and technology developments to create a list of 20 new jobs that could be created in the coming years. It predicted the advent of space tourism would create demand for architects to design hotels and other facilities, both in space and on other planets, by 2015, according to one report of the study.

In an online survey, space architect beat virtual lawyer, body-part maker and vertical farmer to rank as the most aspirational future job, alongside space pilot and space tour guide, [see page 28]. The 149-page study report is worthy of reading for any interested in future trend analysis.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Promises about Space on the Obameter

PolitiFact: Promises about Space on the Obameter continues to measure the campaign promises of presidential candidate Barack Obama with President Barack Obama one year after the historic inauguration.

The Obameter for space promises kept include: 1] the additional of one space shuttle flight; 2] use of the private sector to improve spaceflight; 3] partner to enhance the potential of the International Space Station; 4] Use the International Space Station for fundamental biological and physical research; 5] Explore whether International Space Station can operate after 2016; 6] Work toward deploying a global climate change research and monitoring system; and, 7] Enhance earth mapping.

There are nonetheless several more promises that are "in the works" or "stalled" for one reason or another. How the president will deal with the remaining policy issues may be forthcoming in either the State of the Union Address later this month or in the federal budget proposal coming early next month.

Space Telescope Observation Time Requested for Asteriod Belt Collision

A mysterious streak of dust in the asteroid belt might represent the first evidence of a collision between asteroids in modern times 250-million miles from Earth. If the New Mexico asteroid survey called LINEAR (Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research) data collected January 6, 2010 on object P/2010 A-2 proves to be the correct interpretation, it would be a most unusual finding, according to reports from Sky and Tel, New Scientist, Discovery News, and Universe Today. A request to task to the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes for more detailed observations has been made by astronomers so as to enhance data collection on the science mystery and determine if an asteroid mash-up has occurred or a new comet has been discovered. Astronomers have never before seen a head-on smash-up of two asteroids in the works. There has been no report of whether or not the Dawn spacecraft, en route to the asteroid belt, will be tasked to investigate the event. [Video]

Russians Push for Asteroid Defense

More from Russia Today.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

NASA Names New Wallops Flight Director

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has named William Wrobel as director of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va., and director of the center's Suborbital and Special Orbital Projects Directorate. This directorate manages the agency's sounding rockets and scientific balloon programs, reports Space Daily. It is a very interesting appointment from NASA HQ.

New Virginia Governor Backs Spaceport

"Governor Kaine committed to invest $1.3 million in the Virginia Spaceport. We can make Wallops Island the top commercial Spaceport in America, and I ask you to keep that money in place so that we can aggressively recruit aerospace companies and promote space tourism initiatives," said new Virginia Govenor Robert F. McDonnell in his first Address to the Joint Houses of the Virginia General Assembly, as prepared, delivered on Jan. 18, 2010 [video].

The fledgling commercial spaceport is gaining traction in political circles in Virginia with growing bipartisan support evidenced by an outgoing governor a Democrat and the incoming governor a Republican. While Virginia is not traditionally referenced in the space community as an aerospace state, the view of Virginia and the orbital launch capable commercial spaceport is changing.

Monday, January 18, 2010

China Building GPS-like Satellite Network

China successfully launched its third (3rd) Compass/Beidou satellite into geostationary orbit from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwestern Sichuan province at about 0:12 a.m. Beijing Time on Sunday, January 17, 2010 with Chinese officials reasserting plans to complete an initial regional system by 2012 and a complete 35-satellite constellation by 2020 [Inside GNSS].

China's Compass, Russia's Glonass, and Europe's Galileo are each independent satellite navigational systems similar but not yet as developed as compared to the United States NavStar GPS. The systems have significant military and commercial applications. There are discussions about inoperatability of the systems in the years ahead. Combined the United States, Russia, Europe and China will soon have over 100 navigational satellites in orbit around the Earth adding even greater precision to future seamless receivers.

There is active research and development of a LunarGPS system by the United States called Lunar Astronaut Spatial Orientation and Information System (LASOIS). No deployment date has been set at this time but it expected prior to 2020.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pulsar Radio Signals Faster-than-Light

Astrophysicists at the University of Texas at Brownsville have been studying Pulsar PSR B1937+21 about 10,000 light years away to determine why the radio waves emitted from the pulsar seem to have been traveling faster than the speed of light, according to a new study set to be published in the Astrophysical Journal and reported upon in

Pulsar PSR B1937+21 is the second fastest spinning pulsar yet cataloged, and spins about 642 times around every second. The radio pulse from the pulsar is suspected to have picked up some of the excess speed by passing through a cloud of neutral hydrogen atoms, which causes the radio waves to increase their electromagnetic wavelength (a process called "anomalous dispersion"), reports [Hat tip to Jacob Atkins.]

Obama Launches Export Control Review

President Barack Obama has issued Presidential Study Directive No. 8 dated December 21, 2009 to revamp the export control regime that includes International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). The ITAR regime has been a historic flashpoint between space launch and commercial satellite firms and national security hawks in the Congress, according to Space News. President Obama has directed space policy reviews that are now underway and expected to come into focus with the next federal budget proposals from the White House. Stay tuned to significant space and aerospace technology announcements.

Houston Symphony to Premier The Planets — An HD Odyssey January 21, 23, 24, 2010

With the help of filmmaker Duncan Copp and state-of-the-art space images, the Houston Symphony has created The Planets — An HD Odyssey. The production is a musical and visual performance piece that features a high-definition movie of Venus, Mars, Jupiter and the other movements of Holst's suite, according to The Houston Chronicle. The premier is set for January 21, 23, 24, 2010.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Moon Mission Booked for October 28, 2012

NASA's Lunar Atmosphere Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft has booked October 28, 2012 launch pad time at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia. The spacecraft will be boosted to the Moon aboard a new five-stage solid propellant Minotaur V built by Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corporation, according to a report in Aviation Week.

Sale Price Slashed for Used Space Shuttles

Stand aside Wal-Mart, NASA has announced falling prices for two used space shuttles going down from $42-million to $29-million (almost a $13-million price drop) when the Atlantis and Endeavour complete their upcoming 2010 flight mainfest to the International Space Station. The precise price will be based upon the airport delivery location within the United States sometime late next year (2011). Museums, schools and others have until Feb. 19, 2010 to put in a bid.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Virginia Spaceflight Liability & Immunity Sunset Repeal Referred to Committee

The legislation (HB 21) to repeal the July 1, 2013 expiration date on the act establishing spaceflight liability and immunity law in Virginia has been referred to the Virginia House Labor and Commerce Committee for consideration where the sponsor, State Delegate Terry Kilgore, chairs the committee. It is excpected to gain a positive policy trajectory.

Kilgore carried the orginial spaceflight liability and immunity measure in the 2007 session of the Virginia General Assembly. Virginia became the first state in the nation to grant protection to the commercial space launch industry. Similar measures were subsequently adopted in Florida and Texas. New Mexico is now considering a similar measure.

The 2010 session of the state legislature is also considering a $1.37 million spaceport operating budget for the next fiscal year backed by both outgoing Virginia Governor Tim Kaine and incoming Governor Robert 'Bob' McDonnell.

Virginia Congressman Touts Spaceport

The commercial space flight industry, including facilities like the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at Wallops Island, could get a boost thanks to a new bill, according Congressman Glenn Nye (VA).

Last Wednesday, Nye joined a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives to pass a bill that will simplify the laws and regulations governing national and commercial space flight programs saying, “Commercial space flight is a growing sector of our economy, and it has the potential to create thousands of new jobs here on the Eastern Shore. Simplifying these regulations will help new businesses grow and succeed, creating more jobs and growing our economy.”

According to the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VSCFA), the MARS facility at Wallops Island will support the creation of 400 new jobs and $93 million in infrastructure development this year. The spaceport will be launching cargo to the International Space Station beginning next year.

The legislation (H.R. 3237) passed the House by unanimous voice vote. It consolidates existing laws relating to national and commercial space programs that have been enacted separately over the years, and designates these laws as Title 51 in the U.S. Code.

Bolden Reviewing Heavy-Lift Configurations

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden is to review all Heavy Lift alternatives to the current plan (Ares-V). NASA is reporting that the DIRECT Jupiter launch vehicle will be among those considered today. The Sidemount HLV may also be in the review contention but the referenced report says it may be loosing policy traction. Civil space policy is expected to have President Obama's imprint on or prior to February 1, 2010 when the next federal budget proposal is announced by the White House.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Evidence Mounts for Past Life on Mars

During the course of the year 2010, Martian planetary scientists believe that evidnce will become clear that alien life did exist on the Red Planet at a point in the past, according to a report published yesterday on SpaceFlightNow.

The report notes that "a planet-wide network of micro-organisms came to life underground on Mars 3.6 billion years ago during the first billion years after Mars had formed along with the rest of the planets in the solar system." The scientists also reflect upon the 1976 Viking lander data and the up-dated report on Mars Allan Hills 84001 meteor found on Earth that hinted life had been found. New meteor data is being reviewed with new scientific instruments while ground-truthing spaceprobes continue to gather more evidence.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Buzz Aldrin Turns 80 on January 20, 2010

On January 20, 2010, Apollo 11 astronaut-moonwalker Buzz Aldrin turns 80 years old. To honor the man who has contributed so much to space exploration and the world, The Planetary Society will be presenting our friend and Advisory Council member, Buzz Aldrin, with a giant birthday card – with the good wishes of people from all over the planet! Please take a moment of your time to send him birthday greetings.

The Flyers Among Us

National Space Society's ISDC 2010 to be held May 27 - 31, 2010 in Chicago, IL.

Space Shuttle in 1st 2010 Launch Campaign

STS-130 Endeavour is at the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center being readied for a Sunday, February 7 2010, 4:39 AM EST launch to the orbiting International Space Station. Endeavour's payload bay carries the docking Node 3 Tranquility Module. STS-130 will also bring the Cupola, a large window module and robotics work station to the ISS which will be attached to the side of Tranquility. Recent problems with Node 3's plumbing could delay the February 7 launch but no firm decision has yet to be made by NASA flight managers. STS-130 will be the first of the final five launches of the space shuttle program ending late this year.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Kepler Space Telescope Discovers Five Exoplanets in Precocious Mission Start

NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, designed to find Earth-size planets in the habitable zone of sun-like stars, has discovered its first five new exoplanets, or planets beyond our solar system subsequently named Kepler 4b, 5b, 6b, 7b and 8b, according to a report from NASA, Sky& Tel, and The Washington Post. Video of the Kepler mission set to continue into 2012 using the 'transit method.' The known exoplanets now number about 420; expect very more soon.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

FOR SALE: Two Slightly Used Space Shuttles for $42-Million Each Without Launch Pads

The space shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis are FOR SALE for a mere $42-million each next year with the market being American museums. NASA has told museums around the country that they can have a genuine space shuttle if they're willing to pay $42 million, according to the Houston Chronicle. The two space vehicles do have high milage but are in good shape needing only minor repairs following their last flights later this year.

The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum has been guaranteed space shuttle Discovery. There it will join other legendary space vehicles such as space shuttle Enterprise and the Apollo 11 Lunar Module.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

ISS May Be Seen Over North America

The International Space Station may be viewed at various times this week beginning Monday, January 4, 2010, in the early evenings across North America. For exact times and dates at your location visit SpaceWeather Satellite Flybys and enter your zip code. Dress warmly if your skies are clear even if the flyby is but a little more than 2-minutes. Encourage several friends to take interest in the ISS in 2010 - the final year of space shuttle flights to the ISS.

Small Scopes Reach Beyond Solar System

The first asteroid glimpsed by astronomers before it crashed into Earth was spotted with a couple of refurbished telescopes hooked up to some digital cameras by the the Catalina Sky Survey, according to the Arizona Daily Star. Small telescopes are making very significant on the cheap contributions for modern astronomy ranging from exoplanets to Near Earth Asterioids (NEOs).

‘vyomanauts’ in space!

Two thousand fifteen (2015) ‘vyomanauts’ - (vyoma means space or sky in Sanskrit) - will be going to space launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation, reports DNA India. ISRO is planning to build third launch pad at Sriharkota for manned mission with extra facilities like entry into the crew capsule and an escape chute. Only 4 of the 200 will be finally selected for the first space mission training. While two will fly, two shall act as reserve. The process for selection of final four would commence only in 2012.

And, this Blogger thought India's spaceflyers were 'gaganauts' rather than ‘vyomanauts!'

Friday, January 01, 2010

Lunar Lava Tubes Cited for Possible Human Moon Colonization Habitats in Next Decade

The possibility of utilization of lunar lava tubes for future habitation by Moon colonists is now being described as a possibility in the popular media as they have held the attention of scientists for many years now. The possibility of lava tubes supporting colonists has gained more currency in the wake of confirmation of significants amounts of water ice on the surface of the Moon in recent years.

Lunar Networks blog recently provided depth to the recent Journal Geophysical Research Letters research study led by Junichi Haruyama of the Japanese Space Agency JAXA and published in October 2009 from image and other data gathered by the moon-orbiting Japanese SELENE spacecraft. Linked is a radio show about lunar lava tubes.

Andrew Daga, a fellow grad of the University of North Dakota, recently proposed to The Planetary Sciences Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate's Decadal Survey to study lunar lava tubes stating that "such a habitat would be completely protected from radiation, extreme temperature variations, and regolith dust. The implications for logistical and mission planners are that a substantially larger fraction of the landed mass can be dedicated to life support and science mission support. This could enable longer duration missions without risk of radiation overdosing, better reliability and a more diverse set of scientific technology, and a larger habitat area in which to work."