October 10, 2010

NASA Loosens GRIP On Atlantic Hurricane Season (Source: Space Daily)
NASA wrapped up one of its largest hurricane research efforts ever last week after nearly two months of flights that broke new ground in the study of tropical cyclones and delivered data that scientists will now be able to analyze for years to come. While the 2010 hurricane season has been a rather quiet one for coastal dwellers, the churning meteorology of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea seemed to cooperate well with the science goals of Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP) experiment. (10/10)

Kosmas Wins Endorsement, Rohrabacher Gets Fundraiser (Source: Space Politics)
A key supporter of the NASA authorization bill, Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL), won the endorsement this weekend from the Orlando Sentinel in her reelection bid. Kosmas, the editorial notes, wasn’t able to win a lengthy extension of the shuttle program, but she and other members of the Florida congressional delegation “helped speed up the timetable for NASA’s next manned program.” Her Republican opponent, Sandy Adams, “has been pandering to the anti-government crowd in her party” yet, the paper argues, “she’s all for big government when it comes to NASA” by wanting to continue flying the shuttles.

Kosmas, though, is in an uphill battle against Adams: according to the New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight, Adams currently has nearly an 85-percent chance of winning. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) doesn’t have nearly the same worries about reelection: FiveThirtyEight gives him a 100-percent chance of winning. That isn’t stopping him from raising money, though, and on Monday night Elon Musk is hosting a fundraiser for Rohrabacher at SpaceX’s factory in Hawthorne, California. It’s a $1,000 a person, but that does include catering by Wolfgang Puck. (10/10)

Space Hotel Project to be Launched After Contract is Signed (Source: RIA Novosti)
The implementation of the project to build the first space hotel will only start after a contract between Russian state-owned rocket and space corporation Energia and Moscow-based company Orbital Technologies is signed, the Energia head said. Orbital Technologies on Wednesday announced sky-high plans to launch an orbiting hotel in space by 2015-2016. (10/10)

Space Coast Groups Urge Nelson to Hire Permanent Space Staff (Source: SPACErePORT)
Senator Bill Nelson has for years relied on temporary NASA Fellows in his office to provide staff support for space issues. These individuals spend a year or two on Sen. Nelson's staff and then they are replaced. With the departure of Nelson's latest Fellow, a Central Florida group is urging the Senator to assign a permanent staff member to deal with space issues.

The Aerospace Career & Development Council (ACDC), a group of Florida space industry leaders from government, industry and academia, had expressed concern last year about the challenge for Nelson's constituents to maintain "continuity" on space-related priorities while transitioning between temporary staffers. (10/10)

To Design Miners' Escape Pod, NASA Thought Small (Source: AOL News)
Clinton Cragg is a NASA engineer on a troubleshooting safety team set up in the wake of the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. He had spent much of his professional life in the Navy, where he served as a submarine captain, accustomed to living in confined space. So when the Chilean rescue authorities settled on a plan for reaching the 33 miners trapped 2,400 feet below a desolate desert, but needed a contraption to bring them to the surface, Cragg would become the perfect man to pitch in.

It had to be the smallest possible vehicle for the job, a capsule that would fit into a hole the size of a bicycle tire, with no wasted space for luxury, no elbow room for comfort. When Cragg turned over the design elements to the Chilean navy, which refined them and built the capsule, the rescue craft that emerged looked as if it belonged on a science fiction movie's drawing board. Click here to see his design. (10/10)

NASA Running Out of Money to Monitor Earth-Destroying Asteroids (Source: Big Think)
NASA is in a catch 22 situation. Five years ago, Congress mandated by law that NASA should track 90% of all of the dangerous asteroids and comets that may threaten the Earth by 2020. Just last month, though, the National Academy of Sciences announced that NASA may be out of money to meet this mandate. I think it would be short sighted and unwise not to fund NASA's continued monitoring of extraterrestrial objects that could potentially destroy all life on Earth. (10/9)

150 Lose Jobs in Huntsville as Space Program Continues Shift (Source: Huntsville Times)
About 150 aerospace workers - fewer than initially feared - lost their jobs in Huntsville this week as America's space program continued its slow, grinding course correction, according to unofficial estimates. But another 175 could be still laid off in Huntsville before the coming space program begins generating new jobs. The most layoffs this week - 80 - reportedly came at Jacobs ESTS, a division of Jacobs Technology that provides technical and other support at Marshall Space Flight Center. (10/10)

Battle for Shuttle Not Yet Won (Source: Florida Today)
The space shuttle orbiters remain a hot commodity, and a big-time political football, as elected officials hammer out the final details of NASA's future. Buried in the legislation outlining such lofty matters as where NASA astronauts might go next in exploring our solar system is a paragraph adding some guidance to NASA on picking retirement homes for two of the three remaining space shuttle orbiters.

Senators inserted the clause in the 103-page NASA Authorization bill, directing the space agency to give priority consideration to communities of NASA centers with a "historical relationship with either the launch, flight operations, or processing of the space shuttle orbiters." That would appear to require NASA to give places such as Florida's Space Coast or Houston, Texas, special consideration over, for instance, the bid by New York City to display one of the orbiters at a museum in Manhattan.

In addition to the priority given for historical connections to the program, the other guidance from Congress includes giving priority to locations with the best potential to advance education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Congress also reiterated previous legislative guidance to consider locations where the most people could see them. (10/10)

Saturn’s Rings Could Be the Shreds of a Giant Moon (Source: Discovery)
Astrophysicist Robin Canup loves to smash things together. No, she hasn't joined the team on Mythbusters. Canup's smash-ups are strictly extraterrestrial. Her computer simulations crash a Mars-sized protoplanet into primeval Earth to recreate the birth of our moon. As if Pluto’s not beaten up enough, she has also computationally slammed a companion Kuiper belt object into Pluto to spin off its three moons: Charon, Nix and Hydra.

But the mother of all planetary bang-ups has been staring us right in the face all along, according to Canup. At last week’s American Astronomical Society’s Division of Planetary Science meeting in Pasadena, California, she proposed that Saturn’s magnificent ring system is the result of a moon at least the size of the planet Mercury that plunged into the gas giant. (10/10)

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Makes First Glide Flight (SourE: WIRED)
Seven months after making its first captive flight attached to its mother ship White Knight Two, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo (aka VSS Enterprise) completed its first solo glide flight today touching down on runway 30 at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The early morning flight took place after several months of simulated practice flights in the mother ship, also known as Eve, which has an identical cockpit as the space craft.

The glide flight is a critical first step for the team at Scaled Composites which is building the space ship for Virgin Galactic. Though there has been no word from the company, it is expected the flight test development of the VSS Enterprise will be similar to that of SpaceShipOne. Virgin Galactic boss Sir Richard Branson recently announced he expects the first passenger flights to suborbital space in SpaceShipTwo to happen within the next 18 months. (10/10)

No comments: