August 19 News Items

NASA Research in California Reveals Insight Into Evolution of Life on Earth (Source: NASA)
Humans might not be walking on Earth today if not for the ancient fusing of two microscopic, single-celled organisms called prokaryotes, NASA-funded research has found. By comparing proteins present in more than 3000 different prokaryotes - a type of single-celled organism without a nucleus - molecular biologist James A. Lake from the University of California at Los Angeles' Center for Astrobiology showed that two major classes of relatively simple microbes fused together more than 2.5 billion years ago. Lake's research reveals a new pathway for the evolution of life on Earth. (8/19)

Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy Opens in Colorado (Source: Space Daily)
A new aerospace-themed middle school created through a partnership between the Space Foundation and Colorado Springs School District 11 (D-11) has opened with more than 500 students, 42 teachers, and onsite support from the Space Foundation. The Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy is named in honor of Colorado native and astronaut John L. "Jack" Swigert, who served on NASA's Apollo 7 and Apollo 13 missions. Swigert died of bone cancer in 1982 shortly after being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy curriculum, which is collaboratively developed by the Space Foundation and D-11, uses space and aerospace themes and principles to teach a broad range of subjects, with focus on improving students' proficiency in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics (STEAM). (8/19)

Ares Needs a Death Panel - Govt Must Buy Rides to Space Commercially (Source: Space Frontier Foundation)
In the wake of the Augustine Commission's declaration that the troubled Ares rocket program is unaffordable under any realistic budget projections, the Space Frontier Foundation renewed its call to immediately cancel the costly dead-end project and replace it with multiple commercial vehicles. "Three years ago we published Unaffordable and Unsustainable, declaring that government must henceforth 'buy all crew and cargo services with a destination of low Earth orbit [from] commercial providers using privately-owned and operated spaceships'," said Foundation co-Founder Bob Werb. (8/19)

Space Shuttle Discovery to Launch Aug. 25 (Source:
NASA will try to launch the space shuttle Discovery next week after settling outlying concerns with the foam insulation covering the spacecraft's external fuel tank. Discovery is now slated to blast off next Tuesday at 1:36 a.m. EDT from a seaside launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch date decision came after an extended, two-day meeting by top NASA officials to review whether the shuttle was safe to fly a nearly two-week trek to the International Space Station. (8/19)

Troubled STSS Readies for Launch (Source: DOD Buzz)
Northrop Grumman employees will be holding their breath around Sep. 15 when the enormous billows of flame and smoke begin to spew forth from a rocket lifting a new generation of space sensors into orbit from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. That Delta-2 launch will carry two demonstration satellites of a $1.4 billion program known as the Space Tracking and Surveillance System. Northrop Grumman employees will be holding their breath because STSS may mean billions in new business if the satellites perform as planned. And there is always the possibility of a launch failure. Given how long the program has been in gestation — more than a decade, after having been canceled once before — there is almost no hope of building more STSS birds. (8/19)

Europe and Russia Sign Mars Exploration Deal (Source: AFP)
The European Space Agency (ESA) on Wednesday signed a deal with its Russian counterpart Roscosmos to cooperate on two Mars exploration projects. The deal was inked by Roscosmos head Anatoli Perminov and the ESA's Jean-Jacques Dordain at the Maks aviation and space show outside Moscow. Under the deal, the ESA will use Russia's Proton rocket as part of its Exomars project to send a robotic rover to the Mars surface and buy Russian parts for the rover's power supply system. (8/19)

Flying on Empty (Source: Houston Chronicle)
The signals coming from a presidential commission compiling recommendations for the future of NASA's manned space program are alarming, particularly for communities like Houston that have a large economic stake riding on the outcome. According to commission chairman Norman Augustine, a retired Lockheed Martin CEO, “Our view is that it will be difficult with the current budget to do anything that's terribly inspiring in the human space flight area.” Panel member and former astronaut Sally Ride concurred. “So far, we haven't found a scenario that includes exploration that's viable.” (8/19)

Ares I-X is a Huge Test for Marshall (Source: Huntsville Times)
NASA workers in Florida have assembled a test rocket that the space agency hopes will lead to a replacement for the space shuttle. The unmanned, $400 million Ares I-X test rocket - the test version of the Ares I - has been stacked on the mobile launch pad crawler at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Marshall Space Flight Center manages the Ares I development and has about 35 employees at Kennedy working on the project.

"This truly is historic. This launch vehicle is a size we have not seen since the Apollo era - it is 327 feet tall - and it is just a huge rocket to work with," said Marshall's Stephan Davis, deputy mission manager for the Ares I-X launch. "I've worked on flight hardware before, but never anything of this size and scale. Over the next few weeks, electrical cables will be installed and sensors will be tested, Davis said. Instruments line the rocket and will radio back information on pressure, speed, atmosphere conditions and vibrations the test vehicle endures. (8/19)

PolitiFact Tracks Obama Progress on Space Promises (Source: St. Petersburg Times)
The St. Petersburg Times has a website that tracks President Obama's progress on fulfilling campaign promises. Click here to view a list of space promises on the "Obameter". (8/19)

Engine Trouble Halts Korean Rocket Launch During Countdown (Source: Korea Times)
Korea's dream of putting its own satellite into orbit was halted during the final countdown, Wednesday, after engineers at the Naro Space Center gave the order to abort the launch due to unspecified technical problems possibly involving the rocket engine. The country's space agency quickly ruled out a Thursday launch, and some experts say it might take several days, if not weeks, before the country's very first rocket actually gets off the ground. Experts at the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) stopped the countdown of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1) with seven minutes and 56 seconds left after finding abnormal data during the automated sequence. (8/19)

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