August 1, 2010

Ohio Vying for a Shuttle (Source: Columbia Dispatch)
One small step backward for U.S. manned spaceflight might mean one giant leap forward for Ohio aviation tourism. When NASA ends the space-shuttle program sometime in the next year or so - Congress is dithering about whether to fund another flight after the last scheduled launch in February - it will place the orbiters Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour with three aerospace museums across the country. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington has already called "dibs" on Discovery . The Kennedy Space Center in Florida and the Johnson Space Center in Houston also seem likely candidates for an orbiter.

But put this countdown on hold: The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, the oldest and largest military aviation museum in the world, has also submitted a creditable proposal. Could the Buckeye State - the birthplace of aviation and home to the Wright brothers, John Glenn and Neil Armstrong - get a shuttle? The state's tourism chief hopes so. And he thinks it's very possible. (8/1)

Incoming! The Sun Unleashes CME at Earth (Source: Discovery)
Earlier Sunday morning, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) witnessed a complex magnetic eruption on the sun. The joint NASA/ESA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) -- a mission sitting at the L1 point between the Earth and the sun -- also spotted a large coronal mass ejection (CME) blasting in the direction of Earth. It is thought that the SDO and SOHO observations are connected, making this a global magnetic disturbance affecting the whole of the Earth-facing side of the sun.

The eruption happened at around 0855 UT (3:55 am EST), when the SDO detected a C3-class solar flare originating from a cluster of sunspots (called sunspot 1092). Right at the same time, a filament located about 100,000 kilometers from the flare also erupted. As the eruption was on the Earth-facing side of the sun, the CME is heading right for us -- see the SOHO video of the CME. We can expect its arrival on Aug. 3. (8/1)

Fish Will be on the Menu if We Make it to Mars (Source: Montreal Gazette)
Compared with the year and a half the return journey to Mars will require, the trip to the moon was a little weekend outing. The problems that we have to be overcome are, well, out of this world. First, just living in a confined spartan space with the same handful of people for that length of time is going to be challenging, to say the least. Help may be on the way, though, from an unexpected source. Fish.

What do you do with the fish? You feed them to the astronauts. Why? Nothing to do with making them smarter or to prevent fisticuffs, although there is some evidence that eating fish can improve mental acuity. The idea is to prevent bone and muscle loss by upping the intake of fish's celebrated omega-3 fats.

In recent years we've been inundated with claims about omega-3 fats reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, arthritis and depression. But bone loss? As it turns out, mitigating the extent of bone loss may be one of fish oil's most important effects, at least if we go by some of the studies carried out by NASA. (8/1)

New Trafic Cops of Space Junk (Source: Canberra Times)
Dodging space junk is becoming as arduous as a peak-hour commute, but a Canberra group is helping satellites to negotiate the increasing clutter of cosmic trash. Five decades of space exploration has left the Earth's orbit resembling a graveyard of debris, with each piece of astronautical history posing a potential threat to satellites. But EOS Space Systems, from its tracking station on Mount Stromlo, is leading the way with laser technology that can track both satellites and space junk to within meters and, eventually, push the orbiting junk out of harm's way. (8/1)

Elon Musk: 'I'm Planning to Retire to Mars' (Source: Guardian)
The SpaceX founder is convinced that humanity's survival rests on its ability to move to the red planet. He tells Paul Harris how his company is making the leap to the stars an affordable dream. The fresh-faced 39-year-old man, in a dark T-shirt and jeans, is talking about travelling to Mars. Not now, but when he's older and ready to swap life on Earth for one on the red planet. "It would be a good place to retire," he says in all seriousness. Normally, this would be the time to make one's excuses and leave the company of a lunatic. Or to smile politely and humour a space nerd's unlikely fantasies. But this man needs to be taken seriously for one compelling reason: he already has his own spaceship. (8/1)

Sport in Outer Space (Source: WA Today)
In space, no one can hear you scream (at the referee), which is perhaps a good thing when it comes to the passionate head space that the Manchester United faithful find themselves in from time to time. Which is possibly why this past week United's Jonathan Evans and Ryan Giggs enjoyed some time at NASA's Johnson Space Centre in Houston. After touring the mission control center, players Edwin van der Sar, Tomasz Kuszczak and Ben Amos tried on an astronaut's spacesuit and inspected a full-scale mock-up of Space Shuttle Orbiter, which is used for astronaut training.

NASA believes sport is key to ensuring healthy mind and body in a confined space and so astronauts use treadmills, bikes, basketballs, frisbee and even boomerangs. "It definitely takes skill to be able to throw objects in space," said astronaut Peggy Whitson. "Overcoming an opponent requires some skill. I think there'll be a lot of new games that they come up with." Meanwhile, technologists say athletes on earth have benefited from their work in space. NASA's latest electrolyte formula is a concentrated liquid that, when mixed with water, restores hydration and prevents fluid loss. It's now being sold on licence throughout the US as "The Right Stuff". (8/1)

Long March Launches Fifth GPS Satellite for China (Source:
China launched its fifth satellite as part of its GPS satellite navigation system, with BeiDou-2 IGSO-1 placed into orbit via the CZ-3A Chang Zheng-3A launch vehicle. Launch from the Xi Chang spaceport, in Sichuan Province occured at 5:30 am local time on Sunday. This constellation of satellites will eventually consist of 35 vehicles, including 27 MEO satellites, 5 GSO satellites and 3 IGSO. (8/1)

Diligent to the End – Endeavour’s Engineers Spot 0.005 Inch FCV Defect (Source:
Space Shuttle Program (SSP) manager John Shannon has praised the team responsible for installing the Flow Control Valves (FCVs) on Endeavour, after they spotted a 0.005 inch shim was missing from one of the three valves. Endeavour – processing for next year’s STS-134 – wouldn’t of suffered from any ill effects, had she launched with the since-replaced FCV. (8/1)

Spacewalks Needed to Fix Station Cooling Problem (Source:
Trouble with one of the International Space Station's external coolant loops, used to dissipate the heat generated by the lab's electronics systems, triggered an extensive powerdown late Saturday. NASA managers met Sunday and gave preliminary approval to a difficult two-spacewalk repair job, starting as early as Thursday, to restore the critical system to normal operation. It is not yet clear what went wrong, but the ammonia pump module that is part of coolant loop A, mounted on the right side of the station's main power truss, failed around 8 p.m. EDT Saturday. A problem somewhere in the system caused a circuit breaker to trip, setting off multiple alarms and waking the crew. (8/1)

Editorial: Senate Plan Offers Better Roadmap in Crafting NASA's Future (Source: Florida Today)
The continued stream of NASA workforce layoffs shows the urgency for Congress to stop holding NASA policy hostage and approve a compromise that allows the agency to begin moving toward a new future. Two competing plans are in play on Capitol Hill, one in the Senate and another in the House. The Senate version is imperfect, but contains major elements that make good sense. The House plan travels down a wrong-way street, destroying chances to develop a robust commercial launch industry along the Space Coast. (8/1)

Trying to Solve the Rocket-Launch Traffic Jam (Source: Florida Today)
The Air Force is considering a new launch scheduling strategy aimed at increasing the number of satellites sent into orbit each year and eliminating serial delays that can stall the deployment of spacecraft critical to national security. If it works as intended, the strategy also should help drive down launch costs and alleviate logjams at launch sites such as Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. And it would pave the way for a timely build-up of next-generation constellations of military communications, navigation and missile-warning spacecraft as well as new intelligence satellites. (8/1)

Kosmas: Plan that Keeps NASA Strong Critical (Source: Florida Today)
While the Senate compromise comes much closer to the goals outlined in our bipartisan plan for NASA and strikes a better balance in terms of continuing the development of a NASA-led vehicle while supporting the growth of the commercial spaceflight industry, it was important to move the process forward in the House.

What matters most at this point is quickly signing into law a NASA bill that protects our workforce, minimizes the gap and maintains America’s global leadership in space exploration. I will continue working with Sen. Bill Nelson, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and my colleagues in both houses to work out the differences and finalize a plan that keeps NASA strong and ensures a bright future for the Space Coast. (8/1)

Posey: Invest Taxpayers' Space Money in US (Source: Florida Today)
Last year, I introduced legislation that continues to fly the shuttle until either Constellation or another U.S.-based commercial vehicle is ready to take humans into space. It’s the best way to close the gap and keep America first in space using existing resources.

In August 2008, then-candidate Obama promised to close the gap between shuttle and Constellation. Unfortunately, as president, he proposed terminating Constellation in favor of the possibility that future commercial rockets will be able to take astronauts into space. This makes the gap longer. Our nation has made significant investments in both the Constellation and shuttle, and we should continue with those programs while opening up more opportunities for commercial space endeavors.

The House and Senate put forward separate NASA plans, which begin to move in the right direction but still fall short. America should not “temporarily” outsource our space program to the Russians. Whatever Congress decides, the goal should be to keep investing taxpayers’ space dollars in the U.S. (8/1)

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