December 27 News Items

Ocean-Watching Satellite Facing Delays in Argentina (Source: Spaceflight Now)
The launch of a joint mission between NASA and Argentina to measure salt in Earth's oceans could be delayed nearly one year due to trouble at the spacecraft's factory. The mission is a joint endeavor between NASA and Argentina's space agency, CONAE. NASA's Aquarius instrument will measure ocean salinity levels across the globe to learn new information about the water cycle, a key driver of the world's climate.

CONAE is providing a spacecraft named SAC-D to host the Aquarius payload and six other instruments from Argentina, Italy and France. The 3,100-pound satellite was scheduled to lift off in May 2010, but the official launch date is now undetermined. SAC-D will launch on a Delta 2 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The launch may slip until early 2011, according to industry sources. (12/27)

Pennsylvania Knows Where its Moon Rocks Are; Few Other Recipients Do (Source: Patriot News)
They don’t look like much, a few pebbles trapped in Lucite balls and mounted on labeled wooden plaques in The State Museum of Pennsylvania. Don’t be fooled by their humdrum appearance. The two chunks of stone came from the moon. They were presented to Pennsylvania by President Richard M. Nixon. Forty years after the first moon landing, Pennsylvania is apparently one of a small number of recipients that has any idea where its moon rocks are.

The fact that Pennsylvania’s rocks are on display makes it stand out among the 50 states, said J. Richard Gutheinz Jr., a retired senior special agent with NASA’s Office of Inspector General. Every state in the union and more than 100 countries received what the Nixon administration called Goodwill Moon Rocks. But it would seem the message of good will did not matter as much as Nixon might have hoped.

Ireland’s Apollo 11 moon rock was destroyed in a fire. Malta’s Apollo 17 rock was stolen from an unlocked case in an unguarded museum. And Cyprus’ rock was stolen by a diplomat’s child. Spain’s moon rock was offered for sale in Switzerland. Editor's Note: Florida's moon rock was on public display in the Governor's Office until a 2002 incident at Johnson Space Center raised concerns about their safekeeping. Some NASA interns at JSC stole a cache of rocks at JSC, raising awareness of their incredible value and prompting Florida to put its rocks in safekeeping. (12/27)

Ground Control to NASA TV: Liven Up! (Source: LA Times)
If they can put a man on the moon, why can't they create interesting television? Though the question could be aimed at any number of networks, it is perhaps most aptly directed at the people who really did put a man on the moon -- the clever workers at NASA, who are appearing in more living rooms than ever thanks to the expanding lineups of satellite and cable networks.

Viewers who tune in to NASA Television for the first time might rightly expect to be starry-eyed with wonder at the incomprehensible mystery and vastness of space. But clearly, a universe of possibilities does not assure an abundance of riveting programs. Witness one recent segment about the recovery of a Soyuz capsule upon its return to Earth. The dark, bullet-like object landed in the featureless steppes of Kazakhstan. Coverage consisted of video shot from an all-terrain vehicle approaching it -- mostly soundless footage of tall grass going by -- with an occasional word by an unnamed commentator. (12/27)

Nigeria to Assume Enviable Position in Space Science (Source: Daily Triumph)
The Director-General of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Dr. Seidu Onailo Mohammed has assured that the Agency shall put Nigeria in an enviable position as an active player in the field of space science and technology. According to him, the major thrust of Nigerian nation space Policy Program is to make space research and development activities part of the overall strategies for sustained national development.

The director-general of stated this during the 2009 National Media Conference on Space Science and Technology held at the Confluence Beach Hotel Lokoja, Kogi state. He said that the United Nations has constituted several committees for space development because space is not only a measure for development but also, tool for technological revolution in any society. (12/27)

White House Science Office Reports U.S. Rocket Propulsion Work Lagging (Source: Huntsville Times)
Limited demand for rocket engines could slow advanced U.S. propulsion work, according to a report released by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. "Despite the importance of space to government and commercial activities the U.S. space launch industry has seen a decline in launch services over the past decade ... From 2004-2008 the U.S. shared of commercial launches was about 17 percent, compared with 42 percent for Russia, 21 percent for Europe and 18 percent for the multi-national company SeaLaunch."

From 1999-2008, rocket launches in the United States dropped by half - down from 31 to 15. The slow down in the global economy is partly to blame. U.S. government launches comprise 80 percent of that market. Several rocket engines are under development for launch vehicles like SpaceX's Falcon 9, but lack of global demand slows research and development of rocket engines. (12/27)

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