September 21 News Items

London Architect Plans to Build on the Moon (Source: Guardian)
Having left the capitals of half the world studded with towers, tents, gherkins and globes, the architect Lord Norman Foster is now gazing into the heavens. His firm, whose most famous projects include the British Museum's Great Court and the rebuilt Reichstag in Germany, is joining a European consortium pitching for the farthest frontier. The project would be part of the Aurora program of the European Space Agency. According to Building Magazine, it would investigate adapting materials found in space for building purposes, using data from the original Apollo moon landing, and new information gathered by robot vehicles on Mars. Among the objectives would be building permanent structures on the moon. Click here to view the article. (9/21)

Glenn Research Center Believes Moon Push Could Launch New Glory Days (Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer)
On Oct. 31, if all goes well, a group of engineers and managers from Cleveland's NASA Glenn Research Center will gather in south Florida control rooms to watch a rocket they helped design and build soar into the early morning sky. The 150-second test flight of Ares I-X will mark a milestone for the space agency, and for its venerable Ohio field center.

Local members of Congress, along with economic development officials from Northeast Ohio, are concerned about the Constellation crisis' impact on NASA Glenn. The Constellation work has been a godsend for the 68-year-old research center. It is pumping an average of $93 million a year into Glenn's budget and has halted what had been the facility's long, slow decline, as the increasingly exploration-focused NASA downgraded aeronautics, Glenn's historic strength. The sprawling complex next to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport generates jobs and other spinoffs worth $1.2 billion annually to Ohio. Business leaders want to protect and foster Glenn as a cluster of brainpower, a vital asset as the rusty region builds a knowledge economy. (9/21)

Congressman Hernandez? (Source: Space Politics)
NASA Astronaut Jose Hernandez, back on Earth after competing the STS-128 shuttle mission to the ISS earlier this month, is contemplating his future, a Stockton (Calif.) Record article says the astronaut "is contemplating a political career to represent the Stockton area in Congress.” While it’s not clear how far off his political career might be, he’s gotten involved in one hot-button issue recently. After landing, Hernandez told Mexican television he thought that undocumented workers in the US should be granted legal status: a rare public stance on a political issue by an active astronaut. (9/21)

SpaceX Accelerates Dragon Testing (Source: Aviation Week)
Signaling growing ambitions in commercial human spaceflight, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) will test its Dragon spacecraft earlier than expected on the first flight of its Falcon 9 launcher, while fellow NASA commercial partner Orbital Sciences begins studies of a human-rated version of its Cygnus cargo delivery spacecraft.

“The first four Falcon 9 launches will likely have Dragon on top,” says SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell. “The original plan was to fly only with the 5-meter fairing, but now we’re exploring flying the qualification vehicle on the first demonstration flight.” Following the initial demonstration flight, and three planned demonstration missions for NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, the large fairing will be used to cover a commercial payload planned for the next flight. The first of 12 contracted SpaceX COTS flights will follow in 2011. (9/21)

Sullivan to Brown: Hands Off My NASA! (Source: WTRK)
Here in Houston, politicians are all very supportive of NASA, the astronauts, and NASA’s thousands of employees. Year after year, we’ve heard Mayors, council members, and every elected official in between talk about the importance of the space agency. Now, it seems one local council member is getting a bit agitated with another council member’s support of NASA.

It all started late last week, when Council member Peter Brown sent the following letter Download CM BROWN - NASA Support (2) to the Mayor and other council members. In it, asked the Mayor to consider a resolution saying that the City of Houston acknowledges the economic benefit of NASA, and its employees. He said in the letter that he thought a unified voice from Council members saying how great NASA is would only help the space agency. The Mayor’s office replied that it does not in general issue resolutions on issues, but that it will discuss it in its weekly meetings.

Every other council member seemed to be content with that answer, except for Council Member Mike Sullivan. He fired off an email, basically, being upset that Council member Peter Brown was on his turf. In the following email, Mike Sullivan asked his colleagues not to act on Brown’s suggestion: "Please do NOT act on Peter Brown's email to you regarding NASA and writing a resolution. NASA is in my council district, and I am absolutely all over this issue. Brown is not in the loop, has no idea what is going on behind the scenes, who is involved already, and what our strategy is...Please look for my update to be delivered to Mayor White and all council offices by the end of the day today." (9/21)

The $3-Billion-a-Year Question (Source: Space Review)
The debate in the two weeks since the Augustine committee released its summary report has focused on which report option to pursue and how to get the extra funding needed to carry out that option. Jeff Foust argues that a bigger question has been ignored: why we do human space exploration in the first place. Visit to view the article. (9/21)

NASA's Next Step: Augustine (and Obama) Versus Congress (Source: Space Review)
The Augustine committee's summary report got a strong, and not necessarily positive, reaction in two Congressional hearings last week. Taylor Dinerman describes how this debate could put more pressure on the White House to provide additional funding for the current Constellation program. Visit to view the article. (9/21)

Human Space Flight: in Praise of (a Modified) Option 4B (Source: Space Review)
Which of the several options presented by the Augustine committee should the White House and Congress adopt? Edward Ellegood makes the case for a version of one of the options that could close the gap and preserve thousands of jobs. Visit to view the article. (9/21)

Planet Hollywood, Part 1: "Mission to Mars" (Source: Space Review)
Nearly a decade ago space enthusiasts had high hopes as two Mars-themed movies hit the theaters; both were disappointments. Dwayne Day reviews the first of those films, "Mission to Mars", whose efforts at technical accuracy were spoiled by a bad plot. Visit to view the article. (9/21)

One Backwards Leap for Texas (Source: Discover)
I keep wondering what kind of dumbosity people associated with the Texas Board of Education can come up with next, and I keep being surprised at the depths of teh stoopid. And this time it’s not creationism! It’s NASA. According to Houston Chronicle blogger Eric Berger, there’s a proposal to remove Neil Armstrong’s name from social studies textbooks. Yes, you read that correctly. The proposal was suggested by teachers and parents reviewing materials, because Armstrong "is not a scientist". I could argue that technically that’s correct, since Armstrong’s an engineer, which is different than a research scientist. Still, he did do some modicum of science when he walked on the freaking Moon. I think maybe he should be given the benefit of the doubt on this one. Plus, his foot was the first planted on another world, and maybe we’re not being too tough on students to know that. And the irony that this is Texas! They have a big city there called Houston which has some NASA ties, as in "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." (9/21)

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