March 25, 2013

Dragon's Splashdown Timeline (Source:
SpaceX's commercially-developed Dragon spacecraft is due to depart the International Space Station on Tuesday and begin its descent to Earth a few hours later. The Dragon capsule is packed with 2,668 pounds of cargo, mostly exeriment samples and hardware from the space station's utilization payloads, life support and electrical systems, and crew medical equipment.

Departure activities will begin Tuesday at 4:05 a.m. EDT with the unlatching of the 12-foot-diameter Dragon spacecraft from the space station's Harmony module. The lab's robotic arm will maneuver the craft to a release point about 30 feet below the space station, then let go at 6:56 a.m. EDT. One minute later, the Dragon will begin the first of three rocket firings to fly away from the space station. At approximately 11:42 a.m. EDT, the spacecraft's Draco thrusters will ignite for about a 10-minute deorbit burn.

Moments after the conclusion of the deorbit burn, Dragon will jettison its trunk section, which is a mounting point for the craft's power-generating solar panels and ferried unpressurized supplies to the space station. The separation of the trunk leaves the battery-powered pressurized compartment of Dragon spacecraft alone for re-entry. The gumdrop-shaped capsule will streak into Earth's atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean for a 12:34 p.m. EDT splashdown 246 miles west of Baja California. (3/25)

Rubio Amendment Urges NASA To Dispose Of Underutilized Facilities (Source: Marco Rubio)
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) praised Senate passage of an amendment he introduced urging NASA to dispose of its underutilized facilities in order to save taxpayer dollars and promote commercial space activities: “NASA currently has underused facilities and property which are beyond their design life or outdated and costing billions of dollars to keep and maintain,” said Rubio.

“It is important that we maintain the excellence of NASA and our space programs, and we should start by re-allocating infrastructure that could be utilized by commercial users and state and local entities, resulting in savings for NASA and a reduction in the federal government’s burden to fund space operations. While I couldn’t support the Senate Democrat budget, I am encouraged that this amendment passed in order to save taxpayer dollars, encourage NASA to focus on its missions and deep space activities, and promote the commercial space industry.”

“Space Florida continues to pursue opportunities to both transition infrastructure from NASA programs to more commercial activities, and to develop a purely commercial space launch capability," said Space Florida's Frank DiBello. "We are grateful to Senator Rubio for his assistance in enabling NASA to more effectively dispose of underutilized facilities. (3/23)

Spaceflight Federation Supports Rubio Amendment on NASA Property Disposition (Source: Sen. Rubio)
Michael Lopez-Alegria of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation: “Many of the most difficult challenges in spaceflight development require solutions that involve a partnership between NASA, state governments and private companies. Sen. Rubio’s amendment...will strengthen the public-private partnerships that help us achieve our national goals of science, exploration, and continued leadership in space... The measure would also ensure the government gets the most bang for its buck in today’s tight fiscal environment.” (3/23)

If it Survives Gridlock, Rubio's Amendment Could Trigger Shiloh Transfer (Source: SPACErePORT)
Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-FL) successful amendment to the Senate's FY-2014 budget seems tailor made to facilitate Shiloh's "expedited conveyance to a State or political subdivision." However, the language is not included in the House budget and the Senate's Majority Leader thinks there's little hope for compromise between the Senate and House plans. Meanwhile, President Obama's budget proposal has not yet been released.

Rubio's language is significant, though, as it establishes the "sense of the Senate" that such property transfers should be pursued in haste by NASA. Also, being included in the Democratically controlled Senate's plan may make the Rubio provision more likely to be supported by the Obama administration, since the House budget is largely viewed as a political non-starter due to its draconian cuts to government and social programs. Here's a link to the amendment language. (3/25)

Raytheon Trims Operating Divisions from Six to Four (Source: Space News)
Defense contractor Raytheon of Waltham, Mass., announced a wide-reaching reorganization March 25, one that draws a new hierarchy for many of its space-related and missile defense products and reduces the number of corporate divisions from six to four. Structurally, the reorganization combines Raytheon’s Intelligence and Information Systems division, a major provider of satellite ground systems, with its Technical Services business.

The combined operations will form a new division called Intelligence, Information and Services. Raytheon also will disband its Network Centric Systems division, spreading that business across three other operating units: Integrated Defense Systems; Missile Systems; and Space and Airborne Systems. The changes will save the company approximately $85 million and lead to 200 workers losing their jobs.

Editor's Note: Raytheon employs perhaps thousands of people in Florida, including at the Eastern Range (with CSR), their Intelligence & Information Systems branch in Melbourne, a Technical Services branch in Orlando, and a major Network Centric Systems presence in St. Petersburg and Largo. This reorganization could significally impact Florida's employment totals for the company. (3/25)

Shenzhou's Pigs in Space (Sources: Air & Space, Telegraph)
Chinese scientists, from the very start of their space program, have expressed great interest in the effect of cosmic rays on plants, hoping that such rays might produce Super Veggies to feed their growing population. At first they used high-altitude balloons to fly seeds up to the edge of space. Now seeds are taken aboard the Shenzhou spacecraft. The resulting crops, grown back on earth, are occasionally served in Shanghai restaurants. Space spuds, it’s reported, taste more “glutinous” than terrestrial varieties.

On 12 October 2005 the Shenzhou VI spacecraft blasted off carrying a particularly special cargo—40 grams of pig sperm to be exposed to cosmic rays. Whether or not the experiment generated positive results is unknown, because, after the initial announcement, a shroud of official state secrecy descended upon the mission. But maybe, somewhere on a farm in China, a giant, cosmic-ray-enhanced pig is rolling happily in the mud.

Editor's Note: In other (possibly related) news: "Shanghai authorities have appealed for calm after China’s latest environmental and health scandal flowed into the city in the form of a putrid tide of over 2,800 rotting pigs. How so many pigs got there and why they died remains a mystery." [Could this be the result of pig sperm experiments gone awry? (3/25)

NASA's Gemini Program: a "Stepping Stone" to Mars? (Source: Space Review)
The space community has debated various precursor missions for a human Mars expedition, including trips to the Moon and near Earth asteroids. Harley Thronson notes, however, that these proposals are in sharp contrast the Gemini program, a precursor to Apollo driven entirely by what was needed to support the ultimate goal of landing humans on the Moon. Visit to view the article. (3/25)

Price, Reliability, and Other Challenges Facing the Launch Industry (Source: Space Review)
Customers of commercial launches are expressing concerns about the reliability of some vehicles, while the US government is worried about the growing costs of launch. Jeff Foust reports on those issues and possible solutions, including a return to commercial service of a vehicle that primarily serves government users. Visit to view the article. (3/25)

Bringing Space Resources Into the Human Economy (Source: Space Review)
Recent events have raised awareness of, and interest in, near Earth objects and their resource potential. Greg Anderson discusses the roles banks can play to enable accessing those resources for use in space and on Earth. Visit to view the article. (3/25)

Solar System's Most Spectacular Polar Superstorms (Source: WIRED)
A long-lasting megastorm in the atmosphere above Venus’ south pole is more chaotic and unpredictable than previously thought. Venus has a dense carbon-dioxide atmosphere that creates a surface pressure more than 90 times stronger than Earth’s at sea level and temperatures greater than 450 degrees Celsius, hot enough to melt lead. Though the planet rotates very slowly — a day on Venus lasts 243 Earth-days — its atmosphere travels at speeds of 360 km/hr, whipping around the planet in just four Earth-days. Satellites have spotted an S-shaped vortex with two eyes near each of its poles. Click here. (3/25)

Aerospace Day at the Colordo State Capitol (Source: CSBR)
Join the Colorado Space Business Roundtable, Colorado Space Coalition, and numerous Colorado businesses, educational institutions, and other aerospace partners on March 25 for Aerospace Day at the Colorado State Capitol. People are welcome to come for all or part of the day. The largest attendance is expected between 10:00 AM and lunch and again during the afternoon reception. Click here. (3/25)

Whisky Created From Space Experiment Named Best in the World (Source: Mirror)
A whisky designed around a space experiment has been named the best spirit of its kind in the world. The Ardbeg Distillery in Scotland's Galileo single malt whisky took the top honor at the annual World Whiskies Awards. The 12-year-old limited edition drop, which sells for about £150 a bottle, was created as part of a collaboration with space research company NanoRacks LLC.

The Houston, Texas, firm has been undertaking zero gravity experiments in space involving the maturation of chemical compounds in Ardbeg's whisky, while the distiller monitors control samples on Earth. The commemorative whisky, made from a vatting of different styles of Ardbeg laid down in 1999, took out the prestigious prize at an event at the Waldorf Hotel in Central London. Judges undertook three blind tasting rounds in Scotland and America of over 300 whiskies from around the globe before making their decision. (3/25)

Space Station to Aid Bedford Firm’s Drug Research (Source: Boston Globe)
A Bedford biotech company is going a long way in the search for lifesaving drugs: 240 miles straight up. Emerald BioSystems Inc. is part of team of researchers using the low-gravity atmosphere of the International Space Station to develop­ a more complete understanding of the intricate structure of proteins, which in turn would give drug makers more insight into treating diseases.

“Name a disease, and a protein is involved,” said Cory Gerdts, Emerald Bio’s instrument systems­ product manager. To create new drugs, “you have to understand what the proteins involved­ in causing that disease or curing that disease are doing.” The experiment involves turning proteins into crystals, which allows scientists to make extremely­ detailed three-dimensional images of a protein’s structure. (3/25)

LEGO Toys Returning From Station Aboard Dragon Capsule (Source: Collect Space)
For the astronauts living on board the International Space Station (ISS), it has come time to put away their toys. Hundreds of LEGO toy bricks are soon to be Earth-bound after spending two years circling the planet as part of an educational partnership between the Danish toy company and NASA. The astronauts have packed the iconic multi-color toys aboard SpaceX's Dragon, a commercial cargo spacecraft, which is scheduled to leave the space station and splash down in the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday (March 26).

The LEGO toy sets, all 13 of them, are landing with about 2,700 pounds (1225 kilograms) of cargo, including science samples from human research, biology and biotechnology studies and physical science investigations, as well as no longer needed equipment. The SpaceX Dragon is the only cargo capsule presently flying that is able to return station supplies to the ground, including experiments. (3/25)

Fast Growing APT Commits to Long March Launches (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator APT Satellite Holdings of Hong Kong on March 22 announced a 26 percent increase in shareholder profit on an 18.8 percent increase in revenue for 2012 compared to 2011 and said its new Apstar 7 satellite should help maintain revenue and profit in 2013. APT also said it had entered into a long-term agreement with China Great Wall Industry Corp. of Beijing for future launches of APT satellites. The launches will be aboard an enhanced version of the workhorse Long March 3B rocket, the Long March 3B/E. (3/25)

NASA Center in Virginia May Cut Contractor Workforce (Source: AP)
The large contractor workforce at NASA's Langley Research Center could soon shrink as a result of automatic federal spending cuts that took effect earlier this month, according to NASA officials. The Hampton facility has about 1,900 civil servants and 1,700 contract workers who are employed by a variety of private companies.

Among other things, workers at Langley conduct space technology, aeronautics and atmospheric research. The center's civil servants and contractors also participate in a variety of educational and public outreach programs that sometimes take them out of state. Center Director Lesa Roe told employees last week that she's expecting a $17.4 million cut to Langley's $228 million management and operations budget for the rest of the fiscal year.

Center spokesman Rob Wyman said in an email to that it is unclear exactly how many workers' jobs could be affected by the cuts. "The impacts will depend upon the amount of work that has to be removed from current contracts. The company will then decide how to best manage the reductions," he said. It wasn't immediately clear Monday when a decision on the contractor workforce would be made. (3/25)

Obama Budget: Offset Sequester with $100 Billion in Pentagon Cuts (Source: Defense News)
The White House is proposing a 2014 budget that would not include sequestration cuts but would instead carve $100 billion out of defense spending beginning in 2019. The budget plan, which goes to Congress April 8, also would cut $100 billion in nondefense spending. Administration officials are pushing the DOD spending cuts, along with an additional $100 billion in nondefense discretionary spending — for a total of $200 billion in cuts — as part of a $4 trillion deficit reduction plan that has been offered to House Republican leadership.

The $100 billion in defense cuts would not begin until 2019, according to Frank Kendall, the Pentagon acquisition chief. “The president’s budget... does deal with the deficit, it does do the things that need to be done, if it were passed, to avoid sequestration,” he said. (3/24)

Earth is Closer to the Edge of Sun's Habitable Zone (Source: Physics World)
The Earth could be closer than previously thought to the inner edge of the Sun's habitable zone, according to a new study by planetary scientists in the US and France. The research also suggests that if our planet moved out of the habitable zone, it could lead to a "moist greenhouse" climate that could kick-start further drastic changes to the atmosphere.

A star's habitable zone is the set of orbits within which a planet could have liquid water on its surface – and being within this zone is considered to be an important prerequisite for the development of life. The current consensus is that the Sun's habitable zone begins at about 0.95 astronomical units (AU), a comfortable distance from the Earth's orbit at 1 AU. However, this latest work by James Kasting and colleagues suggests that that inner edge of the zone is much further out at 0.99 AU.

"Our new climate model predicts that we are closer to the moist-greenhouse scenario than we had thought," says Kasting. In this scenario, the stratosphere becomes wet and fully saturated as the Earth's surface warms. This results in the dissociation of water molecules and the release of hydrogen into space. Depending on the levels of atmospheric saturation, the oceans would be completely lost over timescales as long as several billion years. (3/25)

Where's the Edge of the Solar System? It's Complicated... (Source: Discovery)
If you thought finding a definition for Pluto was contentious, try defining the edge of the solar system. A press release from the American Geophysical Union (AGU) last week announced that on August 25, 2012, NASA’s Voyager 1, officially entered interstellar space. This milestone comes after speeding across the solar system for 35 years following its landmark flybys of the Jovian and Saturnian system.

Within hours of the AGU news release claiming Voyager had left the Solar System, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory posted a terse press statement that the Voyager team insists the spacecraft has not yet reached interstellar space. The team has a different criterion: a change in the direction of the magnetic field between the of the sun and the interstellar medium. They said the this transition has not yet been measured as Voyager hurtles toward the stars at 38,000 miles per hour. (3/25)

Earthrise Space Adds Sponsor to X-Prize Team (Source: GLXP)
Earthrise Space Inc. (ESI), parent organization of the Omega Envoy team in the Google Lunar X PRIZE, is proud to announce that it has gained a new ‘Suborbital Level’ sponsor, SURFCAM, Inc. and their parent company, Vero Software. The United Kingdom-based Vero Software and the California-based SURFCAM, Inc. are contributing to Omega Envoy’s goal of landing a rover on the lunar surface by providing high-efficiency CNC milling software. Click here. (3/25)

Spotlight on Bigelow Aerospace (Source: Space News)
“I’ve built about 15,000 apartments in my career. I’ve purchased about 8,000 more, and I’ve built a lot of other kinds of buildings besides those kinds of developments,” said Bigelow, who is perhaps best known in real estate circles as the owner of the Budget Suites of America hotel chain. He made millions, which was exactly the plan, and in 1999 — the year he turned 50 — Bigelow began pouring his fortune into a new venture, Bigelow Aerospace.

“It was a very premeditated life’s ambition,” Bigelow said. “It was spawned from the conversations I had had with my family as a young boy about [UFO] sightings and things that they had seen that were novel kinds of spacecraft. "Hearing those stories from members of my own family made me quickly realize that there was a whole lot that we didn’t know. I became just fascinated — that’s an understatement — in terms of things to do with space.”

Unlike most commercial space startups of the day, Bigelow decided to pass on transportation services and focus on destinations, a fitting match to his real estate ventures. Picking up on work abandoned by NASA, Bigelow Aerospace focused on inflatable habitats that could be folded up for launching and expanded in orbit. Two Bigelow Aerospace prototypes already are in orbit and NASA last year signed up for a test module, called BEAM, to fly on the international space station. Click here. (3/25)

Potential 'Comet of the Century' Not Brightening as Expected (Source:
The promising Comet ISON continues on its way in toward a late November rendezvous with the sun, cosmic close encounter that will bring the celestial object to within 800,000 miles (1.2 million km) of the sun's surface. Many have already christened ISON as the "Comet of the Century," but this may be premature, since the comet’s performance will hinge chiefly on whether it can survive its extremely close approach to the sun on Nov. 28.

"The much hyped Comet ISON is not evolving in the fashion we had earlier anticipated. Rather than slowly but steadily gaining in brightness it has stagnated at basically near 16th magnitude for a couple of months now. After experiencing an interval where the coma's degree of condensation grew quite strong, the object threw out an unexpected strong but short tail that has persists right down to today." (3/25)

Jupiter's Moon Europa May Have 'Spikes of Ice' (Source:
The equator of Jupiter's icy moon Europa may be covered with huge spikes of ice, scientists say. Astronomers have known for some time that Jupiter's moon Europa is icy, and now scientists are trying to understand just what form that ice takes by using some of the coldest places on Earth as analogues. Huge ice spikes, known as penitents, found on Earth could form on Europa, they said. (3/25)

Why Has NASA Banned Access to its Partner Saudi Arabia? (Source: SpaceRef)
Last week NASA Administrator Bolden announced that access to NASA computer networks and facilities would be curtailed for citizens of various countries. Among the countries listed was Saudi Arabia.  It is more than a little unusual to see Saudi Arabia targeted like this given the strong relations between the Saudis and the U.S. in a wide range of scientific and technological fields. It is even more odd that NASA would publicly snub a major U.S. ally in the Middle East in the midst of a presidential trip to the region.

In hearings before Rep. Wolf's Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies on 20 March 2013 (video), Charlie Bolden announced that as a result of recent events related to alleged Chinese infiltration of NASA networks and facilities, that offsite computer access to some foreign nationals would be limited. The countries mentioned by Bolden were: China, Burma, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan.

Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan are not listed on the State Department's Country Policies and Embargoes web page which deals with International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) restrictions. However they are listed as "Countries of Particular Concern" at the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. But the issue at hand was security regarding technical information - not human rights or religion. It is rather hard to find instances where citizens of Saudi Arabia have been accused of hacking into NASA computers or stealing sensitive information. (3/25)

Golden Spike Workshop to Explore Lunar Landing Site Options (Source:
The Golden Spike company are to host an international scientific workshop in October, aimed at evaluating the details of their commercial lunar expeditions. With a focus on the potential to conduct science missions on the Moon, the workshop will also evaluate potential landing sites. The company, formed in 2010, is led by Board Chair Gerry Griffin – a former Director of Johnson Space Center and Apollo Flight Director – and President/CEO Alan Stern, the well-known Planetary scientist, and former head of all NASA science missions.

Their aim is to provide a commercial option for individuals who wish to step foot on the Moon. They are currently in the early phase of their drive, relating to hardware and mission architecture – with a funding drive targetting public support to foster seed money towards that goal.

The multi-billion dollar project will be mainly funded by customers booking missions that are set to become available by 2020 – following a test program that should begin in 2017. Announcing a two-day seminar – that will be held at the Lunar and Planetary Science Institute (LPI) in Houston, Texas, on October 3rd and 4th, 2013 – the sessions will be organized around topical themes, invited presentations, and discussion panels. (3/25)

Golden Spike Seeks State Coordinators for IndieGoGo Campaign (Source: Golden Spike)
Golden Spike is seeking state coordinators to participate in our IndieGoGo campaign to raise $240,000. Each state coordinator will be responsible for raising $5K from local space groups like NSS, SEDS, local astronomy and rocket clubs, and others. State coordinators who achieve or exceed this goal will be recognized publicly and rewarded with prizes, and the top contributing states will also be rewarded publicly and their state coordinators will receive additional prizes. Click here. (3/25)

The Great Exoplanet Debate (Source: Astrobiology)
Dirk mentioned the possibility of a 5 Earth-mass Super-Earth at the orbit of Mars that might be a habitable planet. Which is interesting that perhaps our notion of the outer edge of the classical habitable zone is too constrained by the fact that we have this wimpy little planet called Mars there, and if we had a real proper big terrestrial planet occupying that position, that we might have a wider view of the habitable zone.

The problem with that is of course nobody's been able to solve the problem really well of how you make even early Mars have a warm/wet environment. But some recent work that Ray Pierrehumbert presented at ExoClimes showed that in fact if you have a Super-Earth at a Mars-like orbit, it could be habitable in the classical sense, because if you have a very large hydrogen envelope on a cold big Super-Earth, that collision-induced opacity gives you enough warming. So that to me is an example of how we may, with new theoretical developments, be able to expand our notion of the habitable zone. Click here. (3/25)

Endeavour Exhibit: 10 Hidden Gems (Source: Huffington Post)
The Space Shuttle is the only winged manned spacecraft to have achieved orbit and land, and the only reusable space vehicle that has ever made multiple flights into orbit. Officially designated as Orbiter Vehicle-105, the Space Shuttle Endeavour was the fifth and final orbiter to be built. In April 2011, NASA announced that the California Science Center would receive the Endeavour, one of four orbiters to go on permanent display with the conclusion of the Space Shuttle program.

On October 30, 2012, the Science Center became the permanent home of the Endeavour, which landed at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in September 2012. After an extraordinary journey through the streets of LA, the Endeavour went on public display in the Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion. “Endeavour belongs to all of us and was part of a fleet of vehicles that defined America’s human space exploration for the past 30 years," said Kenneth E. Phillips, Ph.D, the Science Center’s Curator for Aerospace Science.

Visiting the Endeavour requires a timed ticket, which only costs $2. Another ticket option includes the Endeavour plus an IMAX movie screening. To help you make the most of your visit, Dr. Phillips shares his thoughts on ten must sees and hidden gems of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Click here. (3/24)

DiBello: Soaring Drone Market Profits Florida (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
There has been significant buzz around the topic of unmanned aircraft systems, more commonly known as drones. On Feb. 14, the Federal Aviation Administration announced its intent to develop six drone research and test sites around the country, as it has until September 2015 to assimilate commercial unmanned systems into our nation's skies. Space Florida is leading the effort to designate Florida as one of those test sites.

The state offers a multitude of capabilities that make it an ideal location to support the FAA's efforts to safely and responsibly incorporate this new technology into U.S. airspace. These advantages include a vast network of controlled airspace, a rich tradition of aviation and aerospace expertise and innovation, simulation and research centers, unique FAA-approved next-generation systems, a skilled workforce and universities that offer curricula centered around drone technology.

AUVSI recently released a report that estimates the economic impact of drone technology to Florida at $632 million while creating over 3,200 new jobs by 2017, the fourth largest impact among all states. Beyond the economic impact, these vehicles have the potential to create significant benefit for our state and our nation — a point that is overshadowed lately in media reports by the association of the word "drone" with privacy intrusion and war. Click here. (3/24)

Inspire, Connect, Explore (Source: FSGC)
Have you ever wondered where your degree will really take you? Do you struggle with what major to choose? Need some motivation to stay with your tough degree choice? We were in your shoes once. Looking back now we can tell you that earning a degree is very much worth the ride. Inspire, Connect and Explore with NASA’s very own Kennedy Space Center employees and see how our degrees have led us to exciting and fulfilling careers. Click here. (3/25)

NASA's Iconic VAB Undergoes Renovation (Source: America Space)
NASA has begun renovations to the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) located at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. One of the most notable changes was the recent removal of the structure’s large crane, capable of hoisting some 125 tons into the air. The crane harkens back to 1977, when NASA was trying to get the space shuttle program off the ground. Since the space shuttle era drew to a close in 2011, the crane has rested unused from its high position inside the VAB. Starting last Tuesday that changed. Click here. (3/25)

Extreme Telescopes: Unique Observatories Around the World (Source: Universe Today)
In 1888, astronomer Simon Newcomb uttered now infamous words, stating that “We are probably nearing the limit of all we can know about astronomy.” This was an age just prior to identifying faint nebulae as separate galaxies, Einstein’s theory of special and general relativity, and an era when a hypothetical substance called the aether was said to permeate the cosmos.

Newcomb would scarcely recognize astronomy today. Modern observatories span the electromagnetic spectrum and are unlocking the secrets of a universe both weird and wonderful. Modern day astronomers rarely peer through an eyepiece, were it even possible to do so with such bizarre instruments. Click here. (3/24)

Aldrin Refutes Space Sale, States He is Keeping His Moon Memorabilia (Source: Collect Space)
A New York auction house is set to sell more than 300 space artifacts on Monday (March 25), including original documents that were flown to the moon and used to carry out the first manned lunar landing. But contrary to recent headlines prompted by Bonhams' upcoming Space History Sale, the Apollo 11 moonwalker, whose lunar-traveled checklists and flight plans are being offered, is not the one doing the selling. "I am not offering any items for sale from my current collection of Apollo 11 articles in the Bonhams auction," astronaut Buzz Aldrin clarified. (3/24)

Aldrin on Mars Mission; Explains 2002 Punch (Source: Air Force Times)
You may know him as the second man to set foot on the moon as part of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission in 1969, but Buzz Aldrin is also a decorated Air Force pilot who flew 66 combat missions during the Korean War, bringing down two Russian MiG-15s. Following Aldrin’s NASA career, he went on to serve as commandant of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, retiring as a colonel in 1972 with 21 years of military service. Now, he has his sights set again on uncharted territory: the planet Mars and its moons.

Aldrin’s new book, “Mission to Mars,” due out May 7, details his vision to see humans land on the Red Planet by 2035. In the meantime, he remains close to his military roots with an initiative called VetSalute, which makes veterans aware that they can salute their flag during the national anthem. Click here. (3/24)

With Budget Uncertainty Resolved, Sequestration’s Effects Kick In (Source: Space Politics)
The good news for NASA and other federal agencies is that they finally have a fiscal year 2013 budget. On Thursday, the House passed the Senate’s version of a 2013 spending bill as expected, a day after the Senate approved it. The passage ends any worries about a potential government shutdown. More than just a 'Continuing Resolution', the bill provides specific appropriations (and guidance) for much of the government, including NASA.

The bad news, though, is that the appropriations bill does nothing about budget sequestration that went into effect at the beginning of this month. That 5% cut, along with the 1.877% rescission that was included in the appropriations bill passed this week, means that while NASA on paper gets $17.862 billion for FY13, after those cuts it will only have $16.65 billion to spend, a cut of more than $1.2 billion.

Bolden said, though, that the situation could be worse for NASA under sequestration: there are no plans to furlough any civil servants at the agency because the various agency directorates have been operating at a reduced funding level so far this fiscal year, anticipating sequestration or other cuts to come. Other agencies now planning furloughs, he said, spent at faster rates, thinking that that the situation would improve. “We just didn’t think things were going to get better.” (3/24)

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