June 25 News Items

NASA Partners With California Space Authority (Source: SpaceDaily.com)
NASA has signed an agreement with the California Space Authority (CSA) to collaborate on participatory science and public outreach using a simulated lunar surface environment. Under the terms of a Space Act Agreement, CSA will establish an office at NASA's Ames Research Center in NASA Research Park. This fall, NASA Ames and CSA, along with its sister organization, the California Space Education and Workforce Institute, will host the Regolith Excavation Challenge, a prize competition focused on developing improved lunar regolith handling technologies.

During the Regolith Challenge scheduled Oct. 17-18, 2009, teams from across the country will design and build robotic machines to excavate simulated lunar soil, otherwise known as regolith, in hopes of winning a $750,000 prize funded by the NASA Centennial Challenges program. CSA will provide a Lunar Regolith Simulant Testbed, a sandbox containing a sand-like material that simulates the lunar surface. The testbed is used for various education and outreach activities, such as the Regolith Challenge. (6/25)

NASA Readies Plan B for Moon Rockets (Source: MSNBC)
NASA has a backup plan to launch crew and cargo to the moon, reduce the gap between shuttle retirement and a replacement ship's debut, and save taxpayers billions of dollars. They call it the side-mount shuttle. It's basically the space shuttle system without the winged orbiters. Preliminary NASA studies show that using the existing shuttle's solid rocket boosters, fuel tank and main engines as a launch system, with some minor modifications, could be the foundation of an alternative to the planned Ares rocket program currently under development. By some estimates, the cost would be less than the expense of developing an all-new Ares I/V launch system. (6/25)

Astrotech Regains NASDAQ Listing (Source: Astrotech)
Astrotech has received notice from the NASDAQ Stock Market confirming that it has regained compliance with the minimum bid price rule for continued listing. NASDAQ confirmed that the closing bid price of the Company's common stock has been at $1.00 per share or greater for at least 10 consecutive trading days. As a result, the Company is currently in compliance with all continued listing standards. The Company previously received notification indicating that the company's minimum stock price had fallen below $1.00 for 30 consecutive trading days and that it was therefore not in compliance with the NASDAQ listing rule. The Company was given a period of time to regain compliance. (6/25)

Delta Launch 70-Percent "No-Go" (Source: Florida Today)
A readiness review for the planned launch Friday of a Delta IV rocket and a new national weather satellite is under way this morning but there is a good chance stormy weather could force a scrub. The 206-foot-tall United Launch Alliance rocket is scheduled to blast off from Launch Complex 37 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport during a window that will extend from 6:14 p.m. to 7:14 p.m. Friday. Meteorologists, however, expect seasonal thunderstorms to bring electrically charged clouds into the area during the window -- conditions that would prohibit a launch. Forecasters say there is a 70-percent chance of the weather will be "no-go." (6/25)

SpaceX Gets New Financing (Source: PE Hub)
Rocket aficionado Steve Jurvetson and his DFJ partners have agreed lead a major investment in space transportation provider SpaceX. The round could be worth upwards of $60 million, and would include existing SpaceX backer Founders Fund. Jurvetson declined to discuss the specifics of SpaceX’s financing. Regulatory filings show the company had raised $15 million toward a proposed $60 million round as recently as March. Jurvetson says that the round has either closed already or will close within the next 14 days. The Hawthorne, Calif.-based company has raised $112 million in funding since 2002, according to regulatory filings. Most of that financing has come directly from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who holds the title of CEO, CTO and founder of the company. (6/25)

Sea Launch Bankruptcy Filing was Last-Minute Decision (Source: Space News)
Sea Launch Chief Executive Kjell Karlsen said his launch services company resorted to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing only at the last minute, after concluding that it could not reach an agreement with a former customer, Hughes Communications, on a stretched-out payment of a $52.3 million arbitration award Hughes won against Sea Launch. (6/25)

Pro-Con | Is NASA's LRO/LCROSS Moon Mission Necessary? (Source: Kansas City Star)
YES - In an unprecedented scientific endeavor — and what may be one of the coolest space missions ever — NASA's four-month mission could discover whether water is frozen in the perpetual darkness of craters near the moon’s south pole. As a source of oxygen for life support and hydrogen for rocket fuel, that water would be a tremendous boost to NASA’s plans to restart human exploration of the moon.

NO - With more than $1.7 trillion in deficits in 2009, the U.S. is hardly in a position to retain its place as leader in space flight. NASA’s funding has been severely reduced, despite President Barack Obama’s support during the campaign for space exploration and sending people to the moon. (6/25)

Saturn Moon Enceladus May Have Building Blocks of Life (Source: St. Louis Today)
One of Saturn's moons may have an underground briny ocean that could provide the building blocks for life, according to a study in the journal Nature. Scientists have determined that sodium salt in icy grains in one of Saturn's rings was probably blasted into space by geysers on the moon, Enceladus, and they speculate the material originates from a body of water beneath the moon's surface. Such sub-surface water "is very good for the formation of life precursors," said one of the authors of the study. "The whole moon is fascinating. Nobody would have expected such a small moon to have so much going on." (6/25)

Saturn Moon Titan's Chemistry Could Sprout Exotic Life (Source: Astrobiology)
A new study has found that hydrocarbon lakes on Titan could be good hosts for a certain type of chemistry that could lead to life. Saturn's largest moon is not a good candidate for Earth-like life because it usually lacks liquid water on the surface. But one of Titan's most promising features is the presence of lakes filled with liquid hydrocarbons, or molecules made of hydrogen and carbon, such as methane and ethane. These lakes were recently spotted by the Cassini-Huygens mission, a NASA/European Space Agency/Italian Space Agency spacecraft currently in orbit around Saturn. Titan is now the only body in our solar system other than Earth known to have liquid on its surface. (6/25)

Window Damage on Atlantis Threatens Six Month Delay to STS-129 (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
Meetings have been taking place on Wednesday into evaluating damage to the pressure pane on Atlantis’ number 5 window, after a work light knob was observed to be embedded between the pane and the dashboard panel. The damage can only be fully assessed once the knob is removed, with the threat of a six month schedule impact to STS-129 noted, should the damage prove to be unacceptable for flight. (6/24)

NASA Aims to Fix Endeavour Fuel Leak Next Week (Source: Florida Today)
NASA aims to fix dangerous gaseous hydrogen leaks and carry out a fuel-loading test Wednesday -- moves that would clear the way for a July 11 launch of Endeavour on an International Space Station assembly mission. But if the repairs don't work, and elevated levels of the highly flammable gas are detected again, NASA could be forced to switch out the shuttle's external tank and solid rocket boosters. Such a swap would trigger significant delays and make it more difficult for NASA to fly eight remaining shuttle missions and finish station assembly by the end of 2010. The leak caused back-to-back launch scrubs June 13 and June 17 and another in March. (6/25)

Photography - Dateline: Space (Source: New York Times)
On the first American orbital space mission in 1962, John Glenn was allowed to bring two pounds of personal effects aboard Friendship 7. He packed a St. Christopher medal, other good luck charms from friends and a 35-millimeter Ansco Autoset by Minolta that he had purchased near the launch site. Just minutes after reaching orbit, he photographed — in soft focus — the glowing surface of planet Earth, on grainy Eastmancolor negative film. One modest shot for man; one giant leap for mankind. For nearly a half century since then, handheld cameras have been indispensable cargo in space exploration. Click here to view the article and photos. (6/25)

TRDA Plans Emerging Tech Forum on Space Coast on Aug. 11 (Source: TRDA)
Learn about emerging technologies and the businesses behind them at the Technological Research and Development Authority's (TRDA) Technology Opportunity Forum 2009. Meet 25 of the Southeast's most promising technology companies developing solutions for the Department of Defense, NASA and the commercial sector. This fast-paced day of presentations is for decision makers, acquisition managers and investors interested in emerging energy, communications, materials, lasers, information technologies, electronics and more. The event will be held at the TRDA Business Innovation Center in Melbourne. Visit http://www.trda.org/index.asp for information. (6/25)

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