May 14 News Items

Former Astronaut Likely to be New NASA Chief (Source: MSNBC)
Former astronaut Charles F. Bolden Jr. will meet with President Obama in the Oval Office on Monday morning and likely will be appointed the new NASA administrator, a senior administration official told NBC News on Thursday. If he is chosen as expected, Bolden, a veteran of four spaceflights with more than 680 hours in Earth orbit, would be the first African-American appointed to NASA's top post. Bolden retired from the Marine Corps in 2003 as a major general. Bolden was born in segregation in South Carolina but his grades earned him an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. There, Bolden was elected president of his class before earning his Naval Aviator wings and becoming one of America's outstanding fighter and test pilots as well as an astronaut. (5/14)

Obama Science Advisor Discusses Space with Congress (Sources: Florida Today, Space Politcs)
John Holdren, President Barack Obama's chief science adviser, told U.S. lawmakers today that he has "some reason for optimism that the president will be nominating a permanent administrator for NASA very shortly." Holdren also reaffirmed Obama's commitment to the manned space program, saying the president "lights up every time space is on the agenda."

He indicated that members of the Norm Augustine-led panel to review NASA's human spaceflight options would be named soon. "They're in vetting now, but it's going to be an impressive group," he said. He also said if anyone can figure out how to shorten that gap, it's Augustine and his panel. (5/14)

Privately Funded Space Efforts Kick-Off 28th Annual ISDC in Florida (Source: NSS)
The National Space Society (NSS) announced today that Day One of the 28th annual International Space Development Conference (ISDC) will dedicate itself to an in-depth look into the emerging privately funded sector of the space industry. The nation currently finds itself in the midst of a crippled economy, a planet in peril, and in alarmingly low regard in the minds and hearts of the rest of the world. These ominous issues have brought forth a new mandate for American government and business that has become a call to action for those who believe that they can solve some of the grandest challenges of our time. Click here to view the latest conference agenda. (5/14)

Strong Start for DigitalGlobe IPO (Source: LA Times)
More hope for the still-anemic market for new stock offerings: Satellite imaging firm DigitalGlobe Inc. is off to a healthy start today after its initial public offering was priced above expectations late Wednesday. The stock rose as high as $25 when trading began this morning, up from the offering price of $19. The shares have since pulled back and were trading at $21.62 at about 10:50 a.m. PDT, up 14% from the IPO price. The Longmont, Colo.-based company provides satellite photography to the federal government and to commercial users including Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. (5/14)

Cabana to KSC: Stay Focused on Shuttle Safety (Source: Florida Today)
Kennedy Space Center workers must stay focused on flying the final space shuttle missions safely while bracing for the loss of 3,500 to 4,000 jobs, KSC Director Robert Cabana told employees. The job losses will primarily affect technicians employed by NASA contractors between 2011 and 2012, after eight more shuttle flights are completed in addition to the Hubble Space Telescope repair mission in progress, Cabana said. The spaceport had about 11,000 contractor employees as of last fall, according to its 2008 annual report. NASA civil service positions are expected to remain steady at about 2,100. (5/14)

Griffin: No Human Space Flight Review Needed (Sources: Guidry News, NASA Watch)
Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin spoke in Texas at a Roundtable Discussion on the Status of Human Space Exploration. Griffin said that NASA does not need the type of review that the Obama administration is proposing, but if it is to occur, he hopes that it convinces the administration to support the manned space program.

"A review that once again asks the question, 'Are the goal posts in the right place? Should we go to the Moon? Should we go to Mars? Should we visit the near-Earth asteroids?' - scrambling that mix again, I think, will not be productive," Griffin said. "The goals have to remain in place for longer than a presidential administration or a session of Congress if you are to get anything out of the space program." (5/14)

New York Museum Seeks Retired Space Shuttle (Source: New York Times)
Could the space shuttle Atlantis, which grabbed hold of the Hubble Space Telescope on Wednesday, wind up parked on a pier in the Hudson River five blocks from Times Square? That is the pie in the sky for the operators of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. Museum officials envision a space shuttle, housed in a glass enclosure, on the end of Pier 86 at 46th Street on the West Side of Manhattan, home to the Intrepid since 1982. The Intrepid museum was one of 20 institutions that responded by a March 17 deadline to ask NASA about its plan to give away the last of the shuttles: Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis. (5/14)

College Program Offers Workforce Retraining for Shuttle Techs (Source: WMFE)
Pat Duggins reports on a re-training program being offered in Brevard County to help contract workers who maintain NASA's Space Shuttle fleet to find jobs after the program ends. An estimated 3,500 Shuttle workers could lose their jobs. Visit to hear the radio report. (5/14)

Europe Launches Herschel and Planck (Source:
Europe's Herschel and Planck telescope/observatories are on their way to deep space after a successful launch from South America on May 14. The Ariane 5 rocket blasted off from Kourou, French Guiana. The launcher deployed both satellites less than a half-hour later, and controllers in Germany acquired signals from the payloads as they move toward their Lagrangian Point orbits. (5/14)

Telescopes Poised to Spot Air-Breathing Aliens (Source: New Scientist)
Signs of life on planets beyond our own solar system may soon be in our sights. Experiments and calculations presented at an astrobiology meeting last week reveal how the coming generation of space telescopes will for the first time be capable of detecting "biosignatures" in the light from planets orbiting other stars. Any clues about life on these exoplanets will have to come from the tiny fraction of the parent star's light that interacts with the planet on its journey towards Earth.

The Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have both detected gases such as carbon dioxide and water vapour in the atmospheres of a handful of gas-giant exoplanets as they pass in front of their parent stars. The gas molecules absorb light at characteristic wavelengths, and this shows up as dark lines in the spectrum of the starlight which has been filtered through the planet's atmosphere. But seeing evidence of life - so-called biosignatures - in the spectrum of worlds small enough to be rocky like Earth is beyond the sensitivity of these instruments. Click here to view the article. (5/14)

Space Coast Lawmakers Featured on Luncheon Space Panel (Source: NSC)
The National Space Club, Florida Committee, will host a panel discussion with three state legislators during their Jun. 9 luncheon at the DoubleTree Hotel in Cocoa Beach. Senators Thad Altman and Mike Haridopolos, and Representative Ralph Poppell, will speak about Florida's position on space issues. Register online at or email (5/14)

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