July 20 News Items

Telespazio And Turkish MoD Sign Contract To Build Gokturk Satellite System (Source: Space Daily)
Telespazio and Undersecretariat For Defence Industries (SSM - Turkish Defence Ministry), in the presence of the Italian Undersecretary of State for Defence hon. Giuseppe Cossiga, have signed a contract in Ankara worth over EUR 250 million for the construction of the Gokturk satellite system. (7/20)

Space Station Astronauts Fix Broken Toilet (Source: Space Daily)
NASA avoided a rather messy situation in space Monday after giving astronauts aboard the International Space Station the green light to use a toilet after crew members worked for a day to repair it. "The US Destiny lab toilet has been repaired and checked out. The crew has been given a "go" to use it. All three toilets are working," (7/20)

Google Flies You to the Moon (Source: CNET)
Google Earth can now take you to the moon. Timed with the 40th anniversary of the first moon walk, the Internet giant on Monday released an addition to its Google Earth mapping software to provide images of moon landscapes and traces of human exploration there. Called the Moon in Google Earth and available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, the software allows you to see topographical features on our closest celestial neighbor with the lunar equivalent of Google Street View. People can also see a gallery of the Apollo space missions and get information on every robotic spacecraft that has visited the moon. (7/20)

Florida Corporate R&D Spending Increases, But Lags (Source: SSTI)
Corporate spending on R&D in Florida increased 21 percent between 2003 - 2007, moving from $3.181 billion up to $4.569 billion. Florida ranked 17th overall, well behind the top states California ($64.2 billion), Massachusetts ($19.5 billion), New Jersey ($17.9 billion), Michigan ($15.7 billion), and Texas ($13.9 billion). Florida's growth rate also lagged behind other states, including Alabama's 77 percent growth over the same period. (7/19)

O'Brien: The Message is Part of the Mission (Source: NASA Watch)
In testimony to Congress last week, former CNN reporter Miles O'Brien said: "[NASA], dispersed geographically as well by centers of expertise and excellence - does not speak with one voice as it should. Public Affairs herein Washington needs more authority to direct the far flung PR operations - and frankly they need a budget - which currently is 0. You do get what you pay for. There is no doubt the mission is the message - and NASA needs to be taking us places where we have not been before to capture the fancy of a jaded public. But the message is also part of the mission - it should never be an afterthought." (7/20)

Mars: Astronauts Remain Stuck in 1969 (Source: What's New)
Charles Bolden said he wants to go to Mars. How incredibly old-fashioned! We are on Mars now. This is the 21st century. We have discovered robotics. More than that, we have telerobots. Spirit and Opportunity are merely robust extensions of our fragile human bodies. They don't break for lunch, or complain about the cold nights, and they live on sunshine. We have been on Mars for more than five years, looking for evidence of water and life. A human on Mars would be locked in a spacesuit with only the sense of sight. Our rovers have better eyes than any human, and we don't have to take their word it; everyone can see what they see. How wonderfully democratic! Moreover, they have the IQ of their PhD operators back on Earth. (7/19)

Editorial: UK Should Ditch Trident to go to Mars (Source: Telegraph)
The biggest obstacle to a British-led mission to Mars is money. But in 2002 the Russians announced their plans to lead a manned mission to the red planet. And guess how much they estimated it would cost? 20 billion dollars – expensive, but worth it. Britain could afford its own mission. All we have to do is see common sense and ditch plans to replace our worthless Trident nuclear missiles. (7/20)

Apollo 11 Anniversary Day in Florida (Source: EOG)
Governor Charlie Crist declared Apollo 11 Anniversary Day in recognition of Floridians who have played a vital role in our nation’s space program. Today, Floridians can join together in celebration of the Apollo II 40th Anniversary, the day three courageous Americans Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, and Michael Collins launched from NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was their mission to the Moon that forever shaped the future of space exploration in America, and it continues to be Floridians who serve such a vital role in our nation’s space program.

“The benefits of America’s space program have led to advances in science and technology, including the fields of medicine, transportation, public safety, and environmental preservation,” said Governor Crist. “Our state and its leaders are committed to Florida’s aerospace industry, and we are convinced the future center of gravity for the space industry must remain in Florida.” (7/20)

Tom Wolfe: Giant Leap to Nowhere (Source: New York Times)
After Apollo, all NASA and von Braun needed was the president’s and Congress’s blessings and the great adventure would continue. Why would they so much as blink before saying the word? Three months after the landing, however, in October 1969, I began to wonder ... I was in Florida, at Cape Kennedy, the space program’s launching facility, aboard a NASA tour bus. The bus’s Spielmeister was a tall-fair-and-handsome man in his late 30s ... and a real piece of lumber when it came to telling tourists on a tour bus what they were looking at. He was so bad, I couldn’t resist striking up a conversation at the end of the tour.

Sure enough, it turned out he had not been put on Earth for this job. He was an engineer who until recently had been a NASA heat-shield specialist. A baffling wave of layoffs had begun, and his job was eliminated. It was so bad he was lucky to have gotten this stand-up Spielmeister gig on a tour bus.

Neil Armstrong and his two crew mates, Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins, were still on their triumphal world tour ... while back home, NASA’s irreplaceable team of highly motivated space scientists — irreplaceable! — there were no others! ...anywhere! ... You couldn’t just run an ad saying, “Help Wanted: Experienced heat-shield expert” ... the irreplaceable team was breaking up, scattering in nobody knows how many hopeless directions.

Space Program Struggles for Direction (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Forty years after astronauts set foot on the moon, America's space program is struggling to find decisive leadership, clear-cut goals and consistent public support. Despite a flurry of celebrations commemorating the July 1969 lunar landing of Apollo 11 and a pledge from President Barack Obama, a self-described space geek, to reinvigorate the agency, U.S. manned space efforts remain in limbo. Federal budget constraints threaten to scuttle NASA's current plans to spend more than $70 billion to build a new generation of rockets and space capsules to return to the moon after 2020. While alternate proposals promise lower costs and fewer technical risks, they continue to spark disputes with industry and government officials intent on protecting incumbent contractors.

NASA has been drifting and no longer "is the inspiration of a nation," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the Democratic chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that oversees NASA. As part of the drive to make the agency's mission more relevant, the White House is widely expected to focus greater efforts on environmental issues. Meanwhile, China, Russia, Japan, India and various European countries are scrambling to take the lead. "We're going to have to get used to seeing strangers in the sky," futurist Alvin Toffler told a space symposium earlier this year. (7/20)

NASA Langley 'Builds' For The Future (Source: Space Daily)
Building on nearly a century of exploration, aeronautics research and scientific discovery, NASA's Langley Research Center has broken ground for the first building in its "New Town" program, a $200 million facility improvement project designed to enhance mission performance capabilities and renew current facilities. In partnership with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), NASA developed a master plan for modernizing the Langley infrastructure, while simultaneously reducing operations and maintenance costs. (7/20)

Apollo's Greatest Achievement (Source: Space Review)
With the perspective now of 40 years, what was the biggest effect Apollo had? Alan Stern says it's the inspiration it provided to a generation of Americans, some of whom are now turning their attention to the commercial development of space. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1423/1 to view the article. (7/20)

The New Politics of Planetary Defense (Source: Space Review)
A change in administrations had led to a change in how national security risks are assessed. Taylor Dinerman argues that planetary defense -- protecting the Earth from potentially hazardous asteroids and comets -- should play a role in those revised assessments. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1418/1 to view the article. (7/20)

You're Not the Center Of the Universe, You Know (Source: Washington Post)
Walk into an open field on a clear, moonless night. Overhead, sparkling stars sprinkle the sky. All of them seem equidistant from you -- and no one else -- and you are lulled into imagining yourself at the center of the universe. For nearly 500 years, astronomers have struggled to break that illusion. Our petty standing in the cosmos is a scientific fact, if not a visceral experience. Earth zips at nearly 67,000 miles an hour around the sun, which in turn completes one lap around the Milky Way every 220 million years, meaning that the last time we were in this neck of the galaxy, dinosaurs were getting ready to rule the planet. Still, as you look skyward in that pitch-black field, Earth seems to be at the heart of all creation.

...More startling, our universe may not be the only one. As physicists attempt to construct a theory that unifies all the forces of nature, one theme repeatedly arises: that additional cosmic realms may be lurking in other dimensions. We could be part of the multiverse; the Big Bang might have occurred when universes outside our dimensional borders bumped into one another. Click here to view the article. (7/20)

Embry-Riddle and UCF Offer Joint Master’s Degree in Modeling and Simulation (Source: ERAU)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the University of Central Florida (UCF) have teamed up to offer graduate courses leading to a master’s degree in modeling and simulation from UCF. The two universities designed the program for working professionals who wish to expand their knowledge and skills in modeling and simulation, and who will pursue the degree as part-time students. This two-year master’s program will be offered every fall starting in 2009. The program will include a graduate internship and eight technical courses delivered by UCF in an online format. (7/19)

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