June 13 News Items

Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified (Source: Space.com)
For 15 years, scientists have benefited from data gleaned by U.S. classified satellites of natural fireball events in Earth's atmosphere – but no longer. A recent U.S. military policy decision now explicitly states that observations by hush-hush government spacecraft of incoming bolides and fireballs are classified secret and are not to be released.

The satellites' main objectives include detecting nuclear bomb tests, and their characterizations of asteroids and lesser meteoroids as they crash through the atmosphere has been a byproduct data bonanza for scientists. Scientists say not only will research into the threat from space be hampered, but public understanding of sometimes dramatic sky explosions will be diminished, perhaps leading to hype and fear of the unknown. (6/13)

Endeavour Launch Scrubbed for At Least 4 Days (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
NASA officials have said that space shuttle Endeavour won't get a launch attempt this weekend, and likely won't get another launch attempt until June 20. Officials have instituted a 4-day scrub turnaround, meaning if the repairs go as expected, Wednesday, June 17 would be the earliest Endeavour could launch. That seems unlikely with a planned Atlas launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) on Wednesday. If that stays on the books, NASA's next chance to attempt the shuttle launch will be Saturday, June 20. After June 20, the launch would be postponed until July 11 at the earliest. (6/12)

Colorado Aerospace Companies Wait for Word About Stimulus Money (Source: Denver Business Journal)
After nearly four months, local aerospace companies still are waiting to learn what stimulus funding may be available to them — with the knowledge that more than $475 million has been tentatively earmarked for their existing projects. In February, Congress approved more than $1 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for space projects. Whether or when local aerospace contractors will see any of the money indirectly depends on NASA budgeting for fiscal year 2010, which is being hashed out now in Washington, D.C.

Boulder-based Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. is in a typical situation. Preliminary stimulus plans at NASA and NOAA show money coming to two projects for which Ball Aerospace is a contractor. Yet, nearly four months after ARRA’s passage, the company doesn’t know whether it will have a shot at any of the money. (6/12)

Colorado Company to Launch 'Unique' Space Mission (Source: KUSA)
Nearly 40 years after Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon, Centennial-based United Launch Alliance will be giving NASA's latest mission to the lunar surface a boost. The company is controlling the Atlas V rocket that will send two satellites: the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) on their way to monitor the lunar surface. (6/12)

South Florida Science Museum Pays $12k to Ex-Board Member for Missing Space Items (Source: Palm Beach Post)
The South Florida Science Museum has paid $12,000 to a former board member after several pieces of space memorabilia disappeared. The ex-board member believes two hammers and a Russian shuttle window were stolen while on loan to the West Palm Beach museum. He demanded that the museum reimburse him for what he paid for the items. Museum executives said they have no records to prove the missing items were lost by them. Under previous management, Newman came and went with his space stuff without keeping records, said Deputy Director Rachel Docekal. (6/12)

Birthplace of Commercial Space (Source: Las Cruces Bulletin)
VIPs, dignitaries, elected officials, a flyover of a new spaceliner “mothership” and community events in Las Cruces, Hatch and Truth or Consequences make next Friday’s groundbreaking for Spaceport America more than the usual affair of gold-painted shovels, hard hats and dirt. Then again, the $198 million construction budget makes Spaceport America an economic development project the likes of which has never been seen in New Mexico. As the first commercial spaceport built from scratch for commercial space vehicles, the eyes of the world will be on southern New Mexico. And there will plenty to see and hear. (6/13)

Boy Hit by Meteorite (Source: Space.com)
A 14-year old German boy was hit in the hand by a pea-sized meteorite that scared the bejeezus out of him and left a scar. "When it hit me it knocked me flying and then was still going fast enough to bury itself into the road," Gerrit Blank said in a newspaper account. Astronomers have analyzed the object and conclude it was indeed a natural object from space, The Telegraph reports. Most meteors vaporize in the atmosphere, creating "shooting stars," and never reach the ground. The few that do are typically made mostly of metals. Stony space rocks, even if they are big as a car, will usually break apart or explode as they crash through the atmosphere. Human strikes are rare. There are no known instances of humans being killed by space rocks. (6/12)

Griffin Critical of Obama Move (Source: AP)
Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin likes President Obama's choice for NASA's new boss, but he doesn't have the same warm feelings about the administration's decision to study NASA's plan for the manned spaceflight program. Critics both outside and inside the agency have questioned NASA's plans for returning to the moon and, eventually, traveling to Mars. "This review is not, in my judgment, necessary from a technical point of view," he said. "But it does seem to be necessary if we are going to quiet some of the criticism of what NASA is doing, and if we are going to get the new administration on board."

NASA says its Constellation program is the best and only realistic way to resume space exploration after decades of orbiting Earth in the shuttle. Yet some say the plan is too expensive and lacks the needed power and reliability. Griffin, a design engineer by trade, acknowledges challenges within the current program. But the questions dogging Ares are tiny compared to the ones that swirled around the Saturn V design that first shot astronauts to the moon in 1969, he said. (6/13)

Vietnam to Launch Second Man-Made Satellite in 2012 (Source: Xinhua)
Vietnam will launch the country's second man-made satellite in 2012, local newspaper the New Hanoi reported Friday. This is an important plan which was included in the strategy of research and application of space technology to 2020 of the country, said the newspaper. The satellite, called VNREDSat-1, is of small size and low orbit. It will be used to monitor and take picture of the earth surface of different sizes and types and provide those pictures to centers gathering earth-surface satellite pictures. (6/12)

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