March 13, 2010

Shuttle Valve Leak Could Push Back April 5 Launch (Source: Florida Today)
A helium leak in one of Discovery's hump-like rocket pods cropped up over the weekend and if it can't be fixed at the launch pad, NASA might be forced to return the shuttle to its processing hangar and delay an April 5 launch. (3/13)

NASA Supporting ITAR Reform (Source: Space Politics)
NASA is involved in President Obama's export control reform effort, deputy administrator Lori Garver said. “This is an administration-led issue,” she said in response to a question on ITAR. “We are trying to get all the data we can about the kinds of things that ITAR restrictions have kept us from doing that have actually led to this nation being less secure rather than more.” She said that most people in the industry acknowledge that ITAR has been a “hindrance” to companies as well as organizations trying to cooperate with international partners on space projects. “NASA is one of the reasons why ITAR needs to be reformed, but not the only one. This is an administration-led activity we are active participants in.” (3/12)

Bigelow Job Opening for Astronaut (Source:
Bigelow Aerospace seeks professional astronauts to fill permanent positions. Qualified applicants need to have completed a training program from their government or recognized space agency and have at least some flight experience on a recognized space mission. Specialized training and/or experience (ie: Medical, Payload Specialist, EVA, Pilot, etc.) is not a pre-requisite, but is definitely a plus. Click here for information. (3/13)

SpaceX Test Firing Successful (Source: SpaceX)
SpaceX on Saturday successfully completed a test firing of the inaugural Falcon 9 launch vehicle at Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. Following a nominal terminal countdown, the launch sequencer commanded ignition of all 9 Merlin first stage engines for a period of 3.5 seconds. Just prior to engine ignition, the pad water deluge system was activated providing acoustic suppression to keep vibration levels within acceptable limits. The test validated the launch pad propellant and pneumatic systems as well as the ground and flight control software that controls pad and launch vehicle configurations. The first flight of the Falcon 9 which will carry a Dragon spacecraft qualification unit to orbit. (3/13)

Search on for Death Star that Throws Out Deadly Comets (Source: Daily Telegraph)
NASA scientists are searching for an invisible 'Death Star' that circles the Sun, which catapults potentially catastrophic comets at the Earth. The star, also known as Nemesis, is five times the size of Jupiter and could be to blame for the impact that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. The bombardment of icy missiles is being blamed by some scientists for mass extinctions of life that they say happen every 26 million years. Nemesis is predicted to lie at a distance equal to 25,000 times that of the Earth from the Sun, or a third of a light-year. Astronomers believe it is of a type called a red or brown dwarf – a "failed star" that has not managed to generate enough energy to burn like the Sun. (3/13)

Buzz Lightyear was First on the Moon, Say One in Ten Schoolchildren (Source: Daily Mail)
Toy Story hero Buzz Lightyear was the first man on the Moon, according to one in ten schoolchildren. Many pupils thought the animated character - not American astronaut Neil Armstrong - was the first to take one small step for man in 1969. It means big-headed Buzz, whose motto is To Infinity and Beyond, has finally got the recognition he craves. Other names primary school children suggested might have beaten NASA to the Moon included billionaire Sir Richard Branson, the legendary American cyclist Lance Armstrong and even the Star Wars hero Luke Skywalker. While some findings raise a smile, it suggests that school children aren't tuned into our scientific heroes in the same way that they might be to sporting or music legends, said one teacher. (3/13)

Air Force Warns of Increased Launch Costs (Source: Space News)
The Air Force and National Reconnaissance Office could face major increases in the cost of launching satellites as a result of the Obama administration’s decision to cancel NASA’s shuttle replacement program, a top Air Force official said. Gary Payton, deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for space programs, told members of Congress on Wednesday that the Obama administration had not asked the Air Force to examine the effects of canceling NASA’s Constellation program before the Feb. 1 announcement.

The military and intelligence community rely on the same manufacturers as NASA to build the rockets that launch their satellites, but the White House plans to turn to commercially owned rockets to launch astronauts following retirement of the shuttle later this year. Early information shows the price of rocket propulsion systems for the military and NRO “might double” as a result, Payton said. Six studies are now underway together with NASA and NRO to examine price questions, workforce issues and reliability concerns, Payton said. (3/13)

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