June 7, 2010

Earth And Moon Formed Later Than Previously Thought (Source: Space Daily)
The Earth and Moon were created as the result of a giant collision between two planets the size of Mars and Venus. Until now it was thought to have happened when the solar system was 30 million years old or approx. 4,537 million years ago. But new research shows that the Earth and Moon must have formed much later - perhaps up to 150 million years after the formation of the solar system. (6/7)

For Mission to Mars, a New Road Map (Source: New York Times)
At a workshop last month in Galveston, members of NASA study teams looking at how to put in effect the Obama policy presented their current thinking to 450 attendees from industry and academia. The NASA presenters, in describing how the space agency could make it to Mars on a limited budget, said their ideas represented "a point of departure" that would be revised with feedback. The new plans place a heavy emphasis on in-orbit refueling stations, which would reduce the size of rockets needed. For propulsion to Mars, the road map envisions a nuclear-powered ion engine. (6/7)

A High-Tech Version of Ourselves (Source: Houston Chronicle)
Weighing in at 310 pounds, NASA's newest astronaut is a tad heavier than most spacefarers. And he doesn't have much of a personality. None, actually. That's because the soon-to-be seventh member of the International Space Station's crew, R2, is a robot. And though it may be named R2, with its humanoid appearance this robot looks more like C3P0.

Due to launch in September aboard space shuttle Discovery, R2 is the culmination of more than a decade of development by NASA to produce a robot that could help space station crew members with basic tasks. The station crew will initially experiment with the robot in test mode before allowing it to perform useful tasks. The space agency has worked on R2 — short for Robonaut 2, as in the second generation — since 2007. The project got a boost at that time when General Motors joined. (6/7)

Embry-Riddle Offers Short-Course in Advanced Aircraft Accident Investigation (Source: ERAU)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University will offer a short-course in Advanced Aircraft Accident Investigation at the University’s Prescott Campus in Arizona from Aug. 2-6, 2010. This five-day course is designed to introduce the participant to advanced aircraft accident investigation procedures involving design, materials, and aircraft performance. This comprehensive course is a follow-on course for the accident investigation management course or for an individual who has experience in accident investigation. (6/7)

GOP Lawmaker Urges Quicker Transition to NextGen (Source: AIA)
"Stepping into an air traffic control tower in the United States today is like stepping into a time machine," writes Rep. Thomas Petri, R-Wis., the ranking member of the House Transportation Committee. Transitioning to the satellite-based NextGen air traffic control system is vital to upgrading and safeguarding the nation's airspace, he writes, defending the House version of an FAA reauthorization bill that speeds up the transition to NextGen. "We must not let a few controversial provisions contained in the House bill hold up this legislation," he concludes. "Now is the time for Congress to act and put air traffic control modernization and safety first." (6/7)

Opinion: U.S. Needs Long-Term FAA Reauthorization (Source: AIA)
After more than three years of temporary extensions, Congress is "very close to enacting a new, comprehensive FAA reauthorization law," writes Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Ill., chairman of the House aviation subcommittee. To improve safety in the air and provide for long-term growth and stability in the airline industry, Costello calls for negotiators to quickly reconcile the House and Senate versions of FAA reauthorization. "Numerous extensions do not allow the necessary long-term planning of investments at our airports and in technology that is critical to meeting the increased demands our aviation system faces in the coming years," he writes. (6/7)

In New Space Race, Enter the Entrepreneurs (Source: New York Times)
At the Bigelow Aerospace factory here, the full-size space station mockups sitting on the warehouse floor look somewhat like puffy white watermelons. The interiors offer a hint of what spacious living in space might look like. “Every astronaut we have come in here just says, ‘Wow,’ ” said Robert T. Bigelow, the company founder. “They can’t believe the size of this thing.” Four years from now, the company plans for real modules to be launched and assembled into the solar system’s first private space station. Paying customers — primarily nations that do not have the money or expertise to build a space program from scratch — would arrive a year later. (6/7)

No Discipline After KSC Drug Investigation (Source: Florida Today)
An investigation into a small amount of cocaine found in a Kennedy Space Center shuttle hangar has ended without disciplinary action. NASA's Office of Inspector General has concluded its investigation and would not comment on the matter. KSC officials confirmed that none of roughly 200 people screened for drug use after the January incident tested positive, and no employees were disciplined. A space center employee notified security Jan. 12 after finding a small plastic bag outside a bathroom in the hangar where Discovery is processed for flight, known as Orbiter Processing Facility No. 3. (6/7)

Glenn Names Astronaut Mike Foreman Chief of External Programs (Source: NASA)
Veteran astronaut Michael Foreman has been named chief of External Programs at NASA's Glenn Research Center by Glenn Acting Director Ramon "Ray" Lugo. "I am happy that Mike agreed to join the staff of Glenn Research Center," said Lugo. "Having a veteran of spaceflight, who happens to be a native of Ohio, will help us inspire the next generation of space explorers here in Northeast Ohio." Foreman is assuming the role for one year and will retain his position in the astronaut corps.

In his new position, Foreman will oversee both Community and Media Relations and Educational Programs Offices. He is responsible for the development and implementation of educational, informational and outreach programs that contribute to scientific literacy and communicate NASA Glenn's mission and vision to the public -- locally, nationally and internationally. (6/7)

Missing Moon Rock Now Back in W.Va. Hands (Source: Charleston Daily Mail)
A piece of the moon is back in state custody. State Culture and History spokeswoman Jacqueline Proctor says the rock fragment was collected Sunday from retired Morgantown dentist Robert Conner. The one-gram fragment was obtained during the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972 and later presented to West Virginia by NASA. Conner found the rock and accompanying plaque in a box of items taken from his late brother's law office. Conner isn't sure how the fragment got into his brother's keeping. (6/7)

NASA's First Lunar Orion Test Capsule Built (Source: Spaceref.com)
America's first Lunar Test capsule for people since Project Apollo has just been welded into shape. This work finishes the structural framework of the pioneer Orion crew cabin - known as the Ground Test Article - or GTA, by a Lockheed Martin contractor team toiling away at the historic NASA-owned Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans. (6/7)

Space Florida President Faces Big Task (Source: Florida Today)
Space Florida President Frank DiBello understands what makes a rocket soar. Money, and lots of it. Before his September 2009 selection as head of the state agency that works with the space industry, DiBello spent nearly 40 years helping fledgling satellite and spaceflight companies gather investors. Of those companies, some struggled. Some thrived. And some vanished. The varied experience gave the 67-year-old DiBello a singular grounding in the financial aspects of spaceflight and a Rolodex that includes many major players in the space industry.

"Everybody knows Frank," said Bruce Kraselsky, 53, of Virginia, who has known and worked with DiBello for 25 years, including raising money for several spaced-related companies. "Frank is extremely well-connected." In addition to a knowledge of the space industry, DiBello has been praised for his frictionless personality and the smooth operation of Space Florida, which he's run since being named interim president 13 months ago.

"He's more interested in the people than he is trying to help get things to his advantage," said DiBello's business partner since 2008, John Nolan, 65. The men and their wives own Nolan's Irish Pub in Cocoa Beach, where DiBello and his Irish wife, Mary Ann, spend Tuesdays and Fridays greeting customers and even washing a glass or two. "He's got the ability to cross all lines and to assimilate everybody's perspective and to show great interest no matter what anybody has to say," Nolan said. (6/7)

South Korea Rocket Launch to Mark Turning Point (Source: Yonhap)
The successful launch of a satellite-carrying rocket this week would signify a coming of age for South Korea's budding space exploration history, which the government says will include building a lunar orbital probe within the next 15 years. The building of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1), scheduled to lift off Wednesday afternoon, has given the country first-hand experience in designing, building and testing powerful space rockets, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said.

It said if the launch is successful, Seoul could join the ranks of the exclusive "space club" -- countries that operate launch facilities and build satellites sent into orbit using locally assembled rockets. The country launched the first KSLV-1, also called the Naro-1, on August 25, but a problem in the fairing assembly made it impossible to place the 100 kilogram scientific satellite into orbit, although all other systems worked without a hitch. (6/7)

Playing Politics: Obama's Policy Could Haunt His Party at the Polls in Harris County (Source: Houston Chronicle)
Recent reports that the White House used federal appointments as bait to try to dissuade challengers from running in primaries against Democratic incumbents have called into question President Barack Obama's campaign pledge to pursue a new — and cleaner — brand of politics. As the administration prepares to revamp the manned space program by canceling the Constellation moon missions, mothballing the space shuttles and turning to private companies to develop new spacecraft, crass political considerations also seem to be influencing the distribution of assistance to NASA workers who will be laid off during the transition. (6/7)

Bill Nye Signs on as Planetary Society's New Executive Director (Source: Planetary Society)
Bill Nye the Science Guy will take the helm as the new Executive Director of the Planetary Society. Louis Friedman, co-founder and Executive Director since the organization began 30 years ago, is stepping down in September, 2010, but will remain closely involved with the non-profit space group, continuing to direct its solar sail project -- Lightsail-1 -- and other Planetary Society initiatives.

"We are very excited that Bill is taking this position," said Friedman. "He will do a terrific job directing the Planetary Society into the future, and I look forward to seeing where he will lead the organization that I was privileged to serve for so long." A member of the Planetary Society's Board of Directors for more than a decade, Nye has been its Vice-President since 2005. Heidi Hammel, Senior Research Scientist and Co-director of Research at the Space Science Institute (Boulder, CO), will become the Society's new Vice-President after Nye assumes the role of Executive Director. (6/7)

Wallops: Huge Rocket to Make its Way on Delmarva Highways This Week (Source: DelMarVaNow.com)
People traveling on Delmarva’s highways Wednesday night and Thursday morning may encounter an unusual sight that is evidence of the area’s growing space investment. A 95-foot-long tractor-trailer specially constructed by an Ohio company will be transporting a full-size mockup of the first stage of Orbital Sciences’ Taurus II rocket roughly 150 miles across portions of three states — from the Wilmington, Del., port to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island. The company is conducting a trial run of the route in preparation for the Aug. 20 arrival by ship in Wilmington of the actual rocket stage from the Ukraine, where it is being built by rocket companies Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash. (6/7)

Hayabusa to Land Sunday in Australia (Source: Yomiuri Shimbun)
Hayabusa, the world's first space probe to travel to an asteroid and return with collected surface material, will land on Earth on Sunday, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Having nearly completed a series of engine blasts to fine-tune its trajectory, Hayabusa is scheduled to enter Earth's atmosphere at about 11 p.m. Sunday, Japan time. The probe has logged about 6 billion kilometers in space and overcome problems such as fuel leaks, communication blackouts and engine trouble. Its capsule containing samples from the asteroid will touch down in Australia's Woomera Desert.

This will be the first time a space probe has landed on an asteroid farther than the moon and returned to Earth. It visited the 25143 Itokawa asteroid, named after late aerospace engineer Hideo Itokawa, regarded as the father of Japanese rocketry. Samples gathered by the probe are expected to include sand and other materials from Itokawa, which could provide important clues to understanding the early stages of the solar system. (6/7)

The Falcon 9 Flies (Source: Space Review)
SpaceX and commercial space advocates were hoping for the best but also preparing for the worst with the inaugural flight of the Falcon 9; fortunately, they got the former on Friday. Jeff Foust reports on the successful test flight of the new rocket and its implications for industry and policy. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1642/1 to view the article. (6/7)

Blinded by the Light (Source: Space Review)
Like some other 1970s fads, space solar power (SSP) has enjoyed a comeback in the last few years. Dwayne Day contrasts the attention, or lack thereof, SSP received at a pair of recent conferences. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1641/1 to view the article. (6/7)

Breaking Old Habits (Source: Space Review)
A new coalition government has taken power in the UK shortly after the formal establishment of a national space agency. Andrew Weston hopes the new government will take the opportunity to revisit some long-held opposition to efforts such as launch vehicle development and human spaceflight. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1640/1 to view the article. (6/7)

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