August 9 News Items

Editorial: Don't Cut Station Short (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
The Augustine Panel is looking at some hard choices: Should the shuttle program be extended? Should NASA stick with the rocket chosen for Constellation, the next manned program? Should Constellation go to the moon first or concentrate on getting to Mars? But there's at least one choice that doesn't call for a rocket scientist: Should NASA keep operating the international space station beyond the 2016 cutoff called for under the agency's current budget plan?

Absolutely. Why would NASA even consider pulling the plug on a project that took more than 10 years and $100 billion to build just a few years after it's finished? Why give up so soon on this vehicle for scientific research and international cooperation among more than a dozen nations? Why abandon a football-field-sized satellite, painstakingly assembled 220 miles above the Earth by dozens of astronauts who put their lives at risk? (8/9)

New NASA Spaceship to Visit Pensacola (Source: Pensacola News Journal)
A mock-up version of NASA's planned replacement for the space shuttle is making a stop Tuesday in Pensacola for a one-day exhibit at the National Naval Aviation Museum. The new spacecraft, Orion, is designed to be a safer, cheaper, and more versatile vehicle than the space shuttle. A throwback to the Apollo era, Orion features a cone-shaped crew capsule that is blasted into space by a multi-stage rocket that falls away after launch. (8/9)

Editorial: Find Resources for Space Missions (Source: Arizona Star)
I was recently watching U.S. astronauts working to install a Japanese laboratory on the International Space Station. It was a beautiful sight. It suggested purpose. At the same time, NASA had announced plans to de-orbit the space station in 2016. After the investment of so much treasure and lives in the construction of the space station, to be complete in 2011, it turns out to be expendable. We expected a much different future 40 years ago. That vision of a truly space-faring nation had been sold to the public, but it has never been embodied in U.S. space policy. (8/9)

NASA May Need to Keep Old Tools (Source: Huntsville Times)
NASA might have the technology to build huge external fuel tanks, but the tools to do so are fast going away, space agency managers say. The Augustine Panel is weighing options that could lead to a directive from President Barack Obama to keep the space shuttle flying or build a rocket configured around its massive 15-story fuel tank. However, the Michoud Assembly Facility plant near New Orleans is losing the tools to perform the work. Managed by Marshall Space Flight Center, the Michoud plant is owned by the government, but is operated by Lockheed Martin. Large machines and tools used there to fabricate parts of the tank have been removed or mothballed to make way for Ares work on the upper stage slated to begin there over the next couple of years. (8/9)

Ben Bova: Wasted Opportunity in Space (Source: Naples News)
A couple of weeks ago we celebrated the 40th anniversary of our first landing on the moon. Forty years. We put a dozen astronauts on the moon between 1969 and 1972. And then we stopped. Washington killed the Apollo program. How far would we have progressed in space if we hadn’t stopped? What could we have accomplished if we kept moving forward?

First, I want to get rid of the shibboleth about space operations being so expensive. I know NASA’s budget of some $15 billion is a hefty piece of change, but in reality space is one of the smallest government programs. All the money we have spent on NASA since the agency was founded in 1958 doesn’t equal two years’ worth of funding for the Defense Department or the Department of Health and Human Services. Click here to read the editorial. (8/8)

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