February 20, 2011

International Launch Services Hires VP for Sales, Marketing, Communications (Source: ILS)
Johanne Lecomte has been hired as the new vice president of sales, marketing and communications for International Launch Services (ILS). Lecomte comes to ILS with over 20 years of experience serving the telecommunications industry, most recently as vice president for sales and marketing at EADS North America (Astrium) where she was responsible for spacecraft and payload sales, business development and marketing activities in North America. (2/19)

Astronauts Find Space to Aid Chimps who Came Before Them (Source: TCPalm.com)
In the late 1990s, when the Air Force decided to end its chimpanzee research projects — instrumental in the early years of the space program — an organization called Save the Chimps intervened to gain custody of the space animals and their descendants from a biomedical research lab. A home for the rescued chimps was founded on a 150-acre site in Florida's St. Lucie County, a facility that continues to acquire chimps from medical research facilities, entertainment and the pet trade. Its site is a sanctuary, allowing the animals to live out the remainder of their lives in a protected, nurturing environment.

The link between the space program and Save the Chimps was reinforced recently as Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden, a part-time Vero Beach resident and a supporter of the rescue program, visited the preserve. It will be reinforced on Feb. 26 as Worden and fellow astronauts Robert Crippen and Scott Carpenter will be honorary guests for a fundraiser for Save the Chimps and to mark the 50th anniversary of the flight of Ham, the first chimpanzee in space. Also in attendance for the fundraiser will be Dr. Jane Goodall, expert on chimpanzees. (2/19)

Mir Space Station 25 Years Later: Lemon or Marvel? (Source: AOL NEws)
Was it a venerable, robust marvel? Or a derelict, accident-prone lemon? The Mir space station, which spent 15 years in orbit, set space records that still stand today and once was a symbol both of Russia's space glories and new cooperation between Washington and Moscow. Click here to read the article. (2/19)

Cosmic Census Finds Crowd of Planets in Our Galaxy (Source: AP)
Scientists have estimated the first cosmic census of planets in our galaxy and the numbers are astronomical: at least 50 billion planets in the Milky Way. At least 500 million of those planets are in the not-too-hot, not-too-cold zone where life could exist. The numbers were extrapolated from the early results of NASA's planet-hunting Kepler telescope. They figured one of two stars has planets and one of 200 stars has planets in the habitable zone. There are at least 100 billion stars in the our Milky Way galaxy. (2/19)

Editorial: Glenn's OK for Now, But Don't Get Complacent (Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer)
Cleveland's NASA Glenn Research Center fared relatively well in this week's White House budget proposal, but no one who cares about the long-term health of this extraordinary asset to the city and to Northeast Ohio dare relax. While the Obama administration proposes raising Glenn's 2012 funding by about $100 million, the final budget may not look much like what has been suggested. (2/19)

Cal Poly Project to be Aboard Rocket (Source: Santa Maria Times)
Cal Poly students and counterparts from three states hope to see their class projects take flight early Wednesday aboard a Taurus XL rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Three tiny satellites called CubeSats are tucked into a special device dubbed Poly Picosatellite Orbital Deployer or PPOD that has been attached to the fourth stage of the Taurus rocket. This secondary mission on the Taurus rocket is part of NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellite, or ELaNa, program with a motto of “Launching education into space.” Liftoff will culminate several years of getting ready for the mission by dozens of students. (2/19)

Taurus Ready to Blast Off from California (Source: Santa Maria Times)
A Taurus XL rocket is set to carry NASA’s Glory satellite to space Wednesday at Vandenberg Air Force Base, two years after a failure abruptly ended another NASA mission with the same kind of rocket. The four-stage rocket’s liftoff is planned for 2:09 a.m. Wednesday — within a 48-second launch window. The liftoff of the Orbital Sciences Corp. rocket would mark the first since a 2009 failure shortly after launch from Vandenberg.

Officials said that the rocket’s two-piece nose cone, or payload fairing, failed to separate properly and the added weight prevented the Orbital Carbon Observatory from reaching orbit in February 2009. But a review board said that it couldn’t determine why the nose cone didn’t fully fall off, identifying four potential problems responsible for dooming the mission. They also made 11 recommendations aimed at preventing any future flaws linked to the four possible faulty parts. (2/19)

Space Weather Could Wreak Havoc in Gadget-Driven World (Source: AFP)
A geomagnetic space storm sparked by a solar eruption like the one that flared toward Earth Tuesday is bound to strike again and could wreak havoc across the gadget-happy modern world, experts say. Contemporary society is increasingly vulnerable to space weather because of our dependence on satellite systems for synchronizing computers, airline navigation, telecommunications networks and other electronic devices. A potent solar storm could disrupt these technologies, scorch satellites, crash stock markets and cause power outages that last weeks or months, experts said Saturday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting. (2/20)

Vatican's Space Mission (Source: BBC)
"If the Big Bang was the start of everything, what came before it?" That is one of the questions being posed by a new website being set up by the Vatican and Italy's scientific community. After centuries of mistrust between religion and science, the intention is to give the public a greater understanding of both sides. The website, which will be available in Italian and English, has information on everything from astronomy to theology, from space missions to philosophy and art.

It will have three portals - one for a general audience, one for students and their professors, and one for scholars. Within each portal, there will be a variety of multimedia platforms, including a cosmology section, and one that will have the latest data collected by satellites and unmanned probes. The venture is being run jointly by the Vatican and the Italian Space Agency, ASI. While the Vatican will oversee the website's theological sections, ASI will look after the scientific content, including the latest European and American space flights. (2/20)

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