May 17, 2011

Scientists Narrow Down Site for Landing Rover on Mars (Source: AP)
NASA is planning to send its rover Curiosity to Mars and is working to choose the best site out of four possible locations for the landing. Scientists in the Mars research community will have the opportunity to pitch their chosen sites to the team running the mission. The team will then suggest a landing spot, and NASA will make the final decision. (5/17)

AIA Teams with Embry-Riddle on New Industry Reference (Source: AIA)
The Aerospace Industries Association has agreed with the Center for Aviation and Aerospace Leadership at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide to jointly produce a new publication for the aviation and aerospace industry.

Aerospace Industry Report 2011, to be published this month, will provide an extensive business and market review of the U.S. aerospace industry and the global economy. A major reference resource for the industry, the book will contain analysis and statistics on key sectors of the industry and insights on emerging issues. Click here. (5/17)

Letters to the President The Last Launches (Source: CNN)
You say many things about how you respect science. I know that you have challenged the scientific community to come up with new energy sources, lighter building materials, better batteries, swifter communication devices, smarter computers. But all of those things come about not from vague challenges, but rather from concrete efforts revolving around a grand target…like going to Mars for example.

Sure, you’ll take flak if you show real enthusiasm for the space program. We certainly have many earthbound problems. We have political, economic, and diplomatic strife. Many of our fellow Americans are struggling and they hate the idea of money being wasted on journeys into the sky. But all of that was true in the 1960s too. And we went to the moon anyway, because we knew it was important. It wasn't just the astronauts who had the right stuff. We had it as a country. We knew that leaders lead, and that is true of countries just as it is for individuals.

Anyway, I hope as you watch these final flights that you really think deeply about what we are giving up by retreating from our space efforts. And make no mistake: we are retreating. It was not just a space shuttle that left America this morning. It was part of our pride, our will, and our commitment to excellence; it was a portion of our dedication to producing the technological advances that have helped the entire planet. (5/17)

What Aldrin and Cernan Have in Common with Bubba the Love Sponge (Source: Space Politics)
They all talked about space policy. Aldrin appeared on Neil Cavuto’s FOX show. “Everyone but us seems to want in on space,” Cavuto said. Aldrin noted that the decision to retire the shuttle dated back to 2004. “That’s over seven years to come up with a substitute. Where is the substitute? It did not come out of Constellation. Constellation needed to be cancelled,” he argued. “Don’t yell at me. I’m telling you what’s going on here, Mr. Hero,” Cavuto said.

Houston’s KRIV-TV used the Shuttle launch to interview Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the Moon. Cernan has not been a fan of the administration’s space policy. He called the shuttle’s retirement “premature” and said: “There are a few of us old fogies who have called Mr. Obama’s space program a mission to nowhere... We’re abdicating our role.”

Then there's the rather unexpected commentary from shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge. “You know, a lot of people may be sad to see the shuttle program go, but you know, I actually applaud Obama... on this move,” he said. He sees human spaceflight as using outdated technology and wasting billions of dollars, and believes human spaceflight should instead be privatized. “Privatize NASA and quit throwing away money... taking the toys away from NASA” is good place to start cutting federal spending. (5/17)

NASA Picks Potential Landing Site on Mars (Source: FOX News)
After years of poring through images from space and debating where on Mars the next NASA rover should land, it comes down to four choices. Scientists in the close-knit Mars research community get one last chance to make their case this week when they gather before the "judges" -- the team running the $2.5 billion mission that will soon suggest a landing site to NASA, the ultimate decider.

The stakes are high. Location is everything when it comes to studying whether the red planet ever had conditions that could have been favorable for microbial life. The upside is that all four candidates are relatively free of dangerous boulders and other hazards that would pose a threat to rover Curiosity upon landing. The size of a mini Cooper, Curiosity is scheduled to launch in late November after a two-year delay.

With no real engineering showstopper, scientists are haggling over the scientific merits of the locations and trying to convince the rest of the tribe why Curiosity should land at their preferred spot. (5/17)

South Florida Students Participate in Endeavour Lab Experiment (Source: Nova Southeastern)
As NASA’s Space Shuttle Endeavour travels through space on its final mission, two freshman students are hard at work in the laboratory, conducting control research as participants in a microgravity experiment on board the shuttle. Heidi Mederos and Richard Sung will participate in an experiment investigating the role of microgravity on the growth and formation of tin crystals in space.

They are freshmen in the college’s Undergraduate Honors Program and the Dual Admission Program for dental medicine. They will be working under the supervision of Dimitri Giarikos, Ph.D., associate professor at the college and the research coordinator for the Endeavour experiment. "It’s an amazing opportunity for the students," Giarikos said. "It’s exciting just knowing that you have an experiment on board the space shuttle. How many people can say that?" (5/17)

Tucson Company Working on Next Generation Space Travel (Source: KOLD)
Tucson's Paragon Space Development Corp. is currently working on technology that will be used in future missions into space. "Asteroids in 2020 time frame, you know, off to Mars 2025 is all very possible," Taber MacCallum told KOLD.

To reach those lofty goals in the next 15 years, MacCallum says Paragon's working in several different areas to get us deep into space. One of those areas is work on the Orion Spacecraft that could eventually take astronauts to the ISS and the new space suit they'll be wearing.

MacCallum explained, "A new suit that is modular that you launch in, you re-enter in and then if you have to go outside the ship you change out the gloves, you change out the different joints put a life support pack on and go out." Paragon's working hard on that life support system that would allow astronauts the ability to stay in space without returning to Earth for a long time. (5/17)

Commentary: "Wolf Clause" Betrays China-U.S. Cooperation (Source: Xinhua)
The 7,000-kg Alpha-Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) aboard Endeavour is worth $2 billion. The AMS program includes an international team of more than 600 scientists, including many from China's mainland and Taiwan. China's scientists have played a crucial role in designing and manufacturing some core parts of the device. However, Chinese journalists who hoped to cover the Endeavor launch were denied entry to the site by a ban initiated by Rep. Frank Wolf.

NASA revoked the media passes granted to journalists from China due to the ban, or the "Wolf Clause", which was regarded as "discriminative" by even Americans themselves. Obviously, the "Wolf Clause" runs counter to the trend that both China and the U.S. are trying to push ahead their exchanges and cooperation in science and technology.

John P.Holdren, director of the Science and Technology Policy Office said U.S. cooperation with China on science and technology was one of the most dynamic fields in bilateral relations between the two countries. The "Wolf Clause" exposed the anxiety of hawkish politicians in the United States over China's peaceful development in recent years, and it also demonstrated their shortsightedness to the whole world. (5/17)

Boulder's BioServe Will Still Send Research Into Space After Shuttle (Source: Denver Post)
For more than 20 years, BioServe Space Technologies — a NASA-supported center on the University of Colorado's Boulder campus — has sent its customers' science research aloft aboard space shuttles. The shuttle Endeavour carried another BioServe payload consisting of banana spiders, fruit flies and seeds from a mustard-family plant.

The work will continue next year — after the final shuttle flight this summer — with commercial carriers, said BioServe director Louis Stodieck. "SpaceX and Orbital both have demonstration flights scheduled for later this year and will start up commercial resupply of the space station early next year," Stodieck said. "We are manifesting payloads through NASA on those carriers." (5/17)

San Jose Teacher to Work with NASA (Source: San Jose Mercury News)
Marita Beard's teaching career is about to reach new heights -- the stratosphere, actually. The Vallejo-grown science teacher, who lives and works in San Jose, is one of just six classroom educators nationwide selected to work with scientists aboard NASA's flying Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy.

"I'm ecstatic," said Beard, 39, who teaches physics and general science at Branham High School. "I fulfilled my dream of becoming a teacher. Now I want to fulfill my dream of being part of an astronomy research team." Beard and her fellow teachers from across the country will fly later this month and in June aboard a modified NASA Boeing 747. The plane is equipped with a 100-inch diameter telescope built to study infrared light from far-away worlds. (5/17)

Giffords Looks On as Shuttle Launches (Source: Wall Street Journal)
"Good stuff, good stuff," Ms. Giffords said Monday after watching the shuttle arc into the sky, according to her chief of staff, Pia Carusone. Ms. Giffords watched the blastoff in private, seated in a wheelchair and joined by the families of other crew members. Ms. Giffords's relationship with Mr. Kelly has been a back story to what otherwise was a bittersweet moment, as Endeavour embarked on its final mission.

According to Ms. Carusone, Ms. Giffords and Mr. Kelly spent Sunday at a NASA-owned beach house along with other crew members and their spouses. Though on past shuttle missions, Mr. Kelly has taken Ms. Giffords' wedding ring into space with him, this time she took his as well and hung it from her necklace, said Ms. Carusone. Ms. Giffords also wrote him a note and arranged to have it secreted in the cockpit for him to find when he entered. (5/17)

More Pink Slips Accompany Shuttle Launch (Source: My FOX Houston)
The launch of the space shuttle Endeavour on Monday morning may have been the bright spot of the week for 800 local NASA contractors. Those workers at United Space Alliance were just notified they’ll be losing their jobs in July. These layoffs were expected; it’s all part of the planned phase-out of the space shuttle program at NASA.

But Carolyn Fuller can tell you, there is life after space. She was pink-slipped late last year by a different NASA contractor. “It's basically just a call to you that it's time to step through another door,” said Fuller philosophically. After seven months of unemployment, she found a new job with the help of the Aerospace Transition Center. (5/17)

Half of 'Space Nerds' Return for a Re-Tweet (Source: Florida Today)
If at first you don't succeed, tweet, tweet again. Nearly 80 of 150 "tweetup" participants returned to Kennedy Space Center after being disappointed by last month's scrubbed launch attempt. The fourth such event for a shuttle launch gave 150 Twitter users exclusive access to KSC, including a visit to the launch pad Sunday as the rotating service structure was rolled back. (5/17)

Editorial: Endeavour's Mission (Source: Tallahassee Democrat)
If not all eyes in Tallahassee were on Monday morning's launch of the space shuttle Endeavour, the ones who were attentive glimpsed history in the making. Friday's launch at Kennedy Space Center offered a desperately needed counterbalance. It exhibits our nation's extraordinary can-do spirit and yearning to explore, which has long been part of our nation's DNA.

The shuttle program has inspired students -- and teachers such as Florida High science department head Peter Carafano. Mr. Carafano spent two years developing a computer-based space shuttle simulator to educate students on the relevance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The economic effects, including layoffs of aerospace workers and economic hardship for Florida and several other states, may be long-term unless, as hoped -- and subsidized -- commercial companies begin building and operating spacecraft that will take U.S. astronauts -- perhaps even some of those students at Florida High -- into space. (5/17)

Endeavour's Final Stop: California (Source: SPACErePORT)
Endeavour's first opportunity to return to Earth is planned for pre-dawn on June 1, at about 2:30 a.m. The intended landing site is Kennedy Space Center, although California's Edwards Air Force Base is a backup option. Wherever it lands, Endeavour will make its way back to Kennedy Space Center to be de-processed for public display, including the removal of its engines for use on a proposed new heavy-lift rocket. Endeavour will be retired and put on permanent display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. (5/17)

Editorial: Commercial Spaceflight Can Keep State Out Front (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Only one space shuttle flight remains after Endeavour returns to Earth, and the United States still hasn't figured out what kind of launch vehicle we will use to get our astronauts into orbit in the future. Fortunately, commercial spaceflight has achieved dramatic progress and, if funded appropriately, could allow the U.S. to hold onto the space leadership mantle we've held since we first landed a man on the moon in 1969.

NASA should use commercial vehicles to carry astronauts to low-Earth orbit. The agency's Commercial Crew Development Initiative would free up resources to focus on innovative new technologies and vehicles to explore deep space and additional unmanned science missions. This would greatly minimize the gap in manned flight and create jobs in Florida to launch and maintain these vehicles.

This will inspire students to stay in Florida and pursue high-tech and space-related careers. We would see growth in commercial space and can train our students to fill those jobs and grow the industry. Other states have enthusiastically embraced the opportunities of this new industry. To ensure that Florida plays a leading role, our legislators and policymakers need to support and secure funding for the Commercial Crew, as well as programs for the scientific and educational use of commercial suborbital vehicles. (5/17)

Editorial: Abandoning Space (Source: Deseret News)
The president has backed a plan that would scuttle the Constellation program, which would have returned astronauts to the moon as a step toward an eventual Mars mission. Instead, he would rely on the private sector to build rockets to carry astronauts to the space station, then work on a program that would land humans on an asteroid by 2025 as a stepping stone toward Mars.

But that plan always has been meager on specifics, referring vaguely to the private sector and to the possible invention of a new form of propulsion. Some officials even have talked about a mission to Mars that would send astronauts to colonize with the thought that they never would return. The reality, however, is that the failure to articulate a next step in the space program means other nations will take the lead in exploration and discovery, while the U.S. will dismantle an infrastructure of engineers and expertise that will be difficult to restore. (5/17)

Editorial: Ohio Denied Another Important Space Artifact Built by Ohioans (Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer)
The disappointing news of Ohio's unsuccessful campaign to obtain a Space Shuttle brought to mind another closer-to-Ohio space artifact story. The Shuttle Centaur Upper Stage joint program, co-led by NASA Glenn (then Lewis) Research Center and the U.S. Air Force, developed two configurations of a launch vehicle upper stage.

These large stages (up to 30 feet long) were to be launched from the shuttle. Three of the Centaur configurations were built. Despite cancellation just prior to launch in 1986, due to fallout from the Challenger accident, the larger configuration flew on the USAF's Titan IV rockets. One of those was the successful Glenn-managed launch of the Cassini mission to Saturn.

One might expect that the ground test article be displayed at Glenn Research Center or the Air Force museum. Instead, it was sent to the Marshall Space Flight Center, which had no involvement in the project. The display's plaque does not even mention Lewis or the Air Force. It is incomprehensible that the last major launch vehicle stage developed by NASA -- by Ohio's Glenn Research Center -- is not on display in Ohio. Why must Ohioans go to Alabama to see Ohio's successful rocket stage? (5/17)

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