December 23 News Items

New Crew Set To Begin Six-Month Stay On Station (Source: Florida Today)
A Russian spacecraft has safely delivered three new crew members to the International Space Station as the outpost flew 220 miles above Rio De Janeiro. An automated docking system successfully eased American astronaut T.J. Creamer, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi into a port on the Earth-facing side of Russian Zarya module, completing a two-day journey from Kazakhstan. (12/23)

Take the CSA Survey (Source: CSA)
The California Space Authority (CSA) is committed to bringing the perspective and priorities of the space enterprise community to Federal, State, and local policymakers. We have prepared a survey to obtain input and ask that you and your colleagues take a moment to review the suggested action items and prioritize them by pointing out those in need of the most immediate attention. There is also a location for you to add any additional ideas that may not have come to the surface through the planning process. Click here to take the survey. Thank you! (12/23)

Are We Looking in the Wrong Places for Water on the Moon? (Source: New Scientist)
Water is turning up in unexpected places on the moon, controversial new observations suggest. According to theory, water is not stable on the moon's surface above -167°C. As a result, ice should be concentrated in "cold traps" near the lunar poles, in craters that never get any sunlight. NASA's LCROSS spacecraft found water when it crashed into one such crater, called Cabeus, in October. But new observations from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) suggest that many of the permanently shadowed regions near the south pole are dry and several potentially wet regions are sunlit.

The observations come from the Lunar Exploration Neutron Detector (LEND) experiment, which looks for possible water deposits by measuring neutrons emitted from the moon. Water or other hydrogen-bearing compounds reduce the number of fast neutrons. LEND examined 37 permanently shadowed craters near the south pole and found that only three of them – Cabeus, Faustini, and Shoemaker – showed significant amounts of hydrogen. Yet several illuminated regions also appear to be hydrogen rich. (12/23)

Fed Auditors: Shuttle Vital to Science at Station (Source: Florida Today)
NASA will have a tough time pursuing research projects at the International Space Station because of the scheduled retirement of the shuttle next year, government auditors reported. The auditors' report, requested by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla, and Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, notes that without the delivery of spare parts, supplies and other large items by the space shuttles, the station could end up in a crisis mode similar to the way it was operated during the hiatus in shuttle flights after the Columbia disaster.

Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla, said the report explains why it's too soon to retire the shuttle. "This report makes the case for adding shuttle flights ... because absent these additional flights, the utilization of the ISS will fall far short of its full potential," Posey said. Said Nelson: "...We also need a vehicle to get there after the shuttle is retired, which is one reason why I've urged the president to adequately fund NASA." (12/23)

Bus Ride Launches Spaceport Tourism (Source: KRQE)
That new spaceport being built near Truth or Consequences is now hosting its first tourists, but instead of strapping themselves into a rocket, they're boarding a bus. They may not be launching from Spaceport America, but they are getting a close-up look not only at the work going into building it but the rich history of a once-dangerous part of the state. The long road to Spaceport America from T or C transports tourists across vast country and through time. "This country has more history than anyplace in the United States," science teacher Jerry Brown said. Brown, a former NASA engineer, takes tourists on weekends to look over spaceport construction and learn about the heritage of the place. (12/23)

Voyager Makes an Interstellar Discovery (Source: NASA)
The solar system is passing through an interstellar cloud that physics says should not exist. "Using data from Voyager, we have discovered a strong magnetic field just outside the solar system," explains lead author Merav Opher, a NASA Heliophysics Guest Investigator from George Mason University. "This magnetic field holds the interstellar cloud together and solves the long-standing puzzle of how it can exist at all." (12/23)

Orbital Gets Communications Satellite Deal (Source: AP)
Orbital Sciences Corp., which makes small rockets, satellites and other space equipment, received a contract for a communications satellite with OverHorizon, a satellite telephone and broadband provider. Thales Alenia Space, a European satellite systems company, will be Orbital's partner on the project. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The satellite is to provide mobile broadband communications for use with inexpensive terminals installed in vehicles such as cars, trucks, boats and airplanes, Orbital said. (12/23)

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