October 23 News Items

Despite Gloomy Future for Ares I Rocket, the Ares I-X Test is "Go" (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
It's at the launchpad, but its purpose is not as clear as it was even a week ago. On Thursday, the Augustine Panel recommended scrapping the Ares I rocket. Nonetheless, NASA today gave the green light to launch its prototype, the Ares I-X, next Tuesday morning. It's a bittersweet moment for the agency that has worked so hard on getting the test rocket ready as the "first flight of a new era." Here's the press release just in from NASA. NASA has completed a review of the Ares I-X development rocket's readiness and has scheduled its liftoff for 8 a.m. EDT from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. (10/23)

Vega Rocket Testing Continues as ESA Maps Out Operations (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Europe's small satellite launcher is on the home stretch of its protracted development, as engineers methodically check to ensure each of the Vega rocket's parts are qualified for flight. The Vega is still undergoing software and electronics testing, even though its rocket motors and launch pad are nearly ready to go. The mission simulations, which will continue into 2010, are the now the pacing items to wrap up Vega's development phase. Now scheduled for its debut launch next fall, the Italian-led Vega rocket is tailored to send lightweight ESA institutional satellites into orbit. (10/23)

New NASA iPhone App Arrives (Source: WIRED)
The new NASA iPhone app means that even when you are away from your computer (or telescope), you can gawk at nebulas and sunspots. NASA’s image-of-the-day and astronomy-photo-of-the-day collections are right there in searchable thumbnail grids. (We like the “nebula” and “mass ejection” searches.) Plus, you can e-mail or save them to your phone. It’s hard to think of a better way to get nerdy/sublime backgrounds than this app.

You can also watch videos from NASA TV of science updates, mission activity, rocket launches and other events. Another fun option is checking in on NASA’s various missions with status updates and live countdowns clocks. And if you need to know exactly where the International Space Station or space shuttle is right now, NASA has you covered with their orbit tracks overlain on Google Earth or a map with political boundaries, or both. (10/23)

Greason: It's Time to Base U.S. Space Policy on the "Truth" (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Jeff Greason is a founder of XCOR Aerospace company, the Personal Spaceflight Federation, and one of the most outspoken members of the Augustine Panel. "My opinion is...there are elements of the current architecture which would probably would continue to be useful in a variety of future architectures, and there are elements of the current architecture that I really don’t agree give us good value going forward. The current architecture, for example, depends for its budget assumptions the assumption that the space station will be canceled in 2016."

"I don’t agree that's good value for the nation. The current architecture employs a one-and-a-half launch architecture in which the flight rate of the small launcher, Ares I, is very low, with the result being that we would be investing a lot of money in a small booster that duplicates the ability we have elsewhere that we don’t expect to fly very much. And it would arrive late to serve the program that it is intended to serve. So, I don’t think it’s a fair characterization to say that what we found is that everything is wonderful." Click here to read the interview. (10/23)

European Reps Express Support for Big Investment in Exploration (Source: Space.com)
Representatives from most of the 27 member governments of the European Union (EU) on Oct. 23 expressed support for a major, if still undefined, financial investment in space exploration alongside the European Space Agency (ESA) but conceded it will take a year before they are ready to set firm budget and policy goals. They said that by late 2010 they should be able to make initial decisions on a space exploration roadmap that includes robotic and manned missions in collaboration with the United States, Russia, Japan and other nations including China and India.

They also acknowledged that the United States, which they view as the natural coordinator of a major exploration initiative, will need the next 12 months to align U.S. space exploration objectives with NASA’s likely budget. European Commission Vice President Guenter Verheugen, who has been a major force in putting space on the agenda of the commission, urged European governments to view space exploration as something more than a source of new technologies or other practical spinoffs. (10/23)

NASA Pledges To Rebalance Technology Development Efforts (Source: Space News)
Amid criticism that NASA has strayed from its research and development roots in recent years, a senior agency official told a congressional panel that NASA would be changing the way it invests in advanced technologies. “Earlier this year we recognized that our investments in technology have changed. They’ve changed their focus to a more near-term focus as opposed to a longer-term focus for a variety of reasons,” NASA Associate Administrator Chris Scolese said. “So we asked a team to go off and look at what we could do...You can expect to see some changes in how NASA does technology in the future.” (10/23)

Video Advocates Option 4B for Shuttle Extension (Source: SPACErePORT)
A new video is circulating with snippets from Augustine Panel meetings and other commentary in favor of Option 4B, the scenario put forward in the Augustine Panel's final report that would extend the Space Shuttle to 2015 and replace it with a shuttle-derived heavy-lift vehicle. See the video at http://www.vimeo.com/7209149. (10/23)

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