January 9, 2010

New Iranian Satellite to be Unveiled in February (Source: Space Policy Online)
A new Iranian satellite, AUT SAT, will be unveiled during the "Ten-Day Dawn" (February 1-11) according to a report from the Iranian Mehr News Agency (MHR). The 70-80 kilogram satellite is being designed by scientists at Iran's Amir-Kabir University of Technology (AUT) to assess damage from earthquakes, droughts and other natural disasters, according to MHR. Iran conducted its first successful space launch in February 2009, placing the Omid (Hope) store-and-forward communications satellite into orbit. The satellite reentered in April 2009. Russia launched Iran's first satellite, Sina-1, in 2005. (1/9)

Nelson: Passing On A Chance To Help Florida (Source: NASA Watch)
At a time when substantial job cuts loom for the Florida economy due to Shuttle retirement, and Recovery Act money is flowing steadily elsewhere in the U.S., one would think that NASA would be looking at ways to offset some of the post-Shuttle economic impact. Guess again. In July 2008, scientists at the University of Central Florida proposed the $50 million "Global-Scale Observations of the Limb and Disk" (GOLD) mission to NASA's Explorer program. After NASA and scientific community peer review this experiment was selected for Phase A development and funding as a mission of opportunity under its Explorer science space program.

Despite getting excellent ratings, and a recommendation by its own Explorer review panel to proceed, NASA Science Mission Dorectorate AA Ed Weiler decided not to select the mission for full development due lack of funds. Once again, it would seem that SMD's inability to cover cost overruns on large projects such as the Mars Science Laboratory continues to have a negative ripple effect on new science missions. Rep. Susan Kosmas (D-FL) has taken this mission's plight under her wing and has been working hard to get some face time with NASA on this topic. Alas, the office of Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) has not done anything of consequence to probe this matter further. This inaction on Nelson's part is rather odd given his rhetoric on other issues facing Florida's workforce. (1/8)

High Winds, Shuttle Push Back SDO Launch (Source: Florida Today)
The launch of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport has slipped from Feb. 3 to Feb. 9. NASA officials said high winds before the holidays delayed the mating of a Centaur upper stage to the United Launch Alliance Atlas V booster, eating up contingency time. With shuttle Endeavour targeted for an early Feb. 7 liftoff from Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station, the Eastern Range wasn't available until two days later. The mission's new launch window is 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Eastern time. SDO will study the sun and its effect on space weather, including sunspots, solar flares and coronal mass ejections. (1/9)

University of Maine Starts Aerospace Engineering Classes (Source: Bangor Daily News)
It was about two years ago that Dana Humphrey was struck by a comment he read in a newspaper suggesting the University of Maine System start teaching aerospace engineering. Humphrey, dean of the University of Maine College of Engineering, tracked down the source of the comment, which came from David Rubenstein, an independent aeronautical engineering consultant based in Yarmouth. The UM dean drove down to meet Rubenstein for coffee and to talk about the potential for enhancing the school’s offerings. Several years and a $196,000 NASA grant later, UM has its aerospace engineering program — a three-course concentration within the mechanical engineering major — with Rubenstein as professor. (1/9)

NASA Focuses on Safety (Source: Florida Today)
Facing five final flights in the next eight months, NASA on Monday will stage a "Safety Stand Down" aimed at avoiding deadly accidents before the end of the shuttle program. Normal operations will be put on hold at Kennedy Space Center, Johnson Space Center in Houston, Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Miss. During meetings with workers just back from a holiday break, senior NASA managers will put a sharp focus on safely finishing the International Space Station. (1/9)

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