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Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Senate Approves JWST Funding

From Universetoday.com-

This afternoon the U.S. Senate approved H.R. 2112, a FY 2012 bill from Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski that would fund the James Webb Space Telescope to launch in 2018. This is another step forward for the next-generation space telescope, which many have called the successor to Hubble… all that now remains is for the House to reconcile.

“We are creating the building blocks that we need for a smarter America. Our nation is in an amazing race – the race for discovery and new knowledge, the race to remain competitive,” Chairwoman Mikulski said. ”This bill includes full funding of the James Webb Telescope to achieve a 2018 launch. The Webb Telescope supports 1,200 jobs and will lead to the kind of innovation and discovery that have made America great. It will inspire America’s next generation of scientists and innovators that will have the new ideas that lead to new products and new jobs…”

Full story…

This is still not a done deal. A Bill in the House that cuts NASA funding more than the Senate version (including less for commercial crew) doesn’t fund JWST.


Planetary Science Lives, NASA Official Says

Don’t believe anything you read in the Washington Times.

From Space.com-

Rumors of the death of NASA’s planetary science program are greatly exaggerated, according to the head of the agency division responsible for that activity.

Speaking at an Oct. 27 meeting of the NASA Advisory Council’s Planetary Science subcommittee, Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science division, took issue with an opinion piece claiming the agency was gutting its robotic exploration program following a pair of upcoming missions.

“It is not true the planetary program is being killed,” Green told subcommittee members participating via telephone and Internet. He was referring to an assertion by Robert Zubrin, an outspoken advocate of Mars exploration, in an opinion piece published Oct. 26 by the Washington Times

Full story…


Cool Video-Amateur Rocket Reaches a Claimed 121,000 Feet

From Universetoday-

An amateur rocket may have won the Carmack Challenge (put out by Armadillo Aerospace Founder John Carmack) for the first vehicle to reach 100K feet. There is a 16 minute video that is really cool.

Full story and video…

More images and detail on the project website…


Runner Plans on Doing a “Mile on the Moon” if…

This is a couple of weeks old, but CNN just ran a segment about it that inferred that Space X would give him a ride (yeah, sure they will)-

From a PR blog-

Celebrated runner and philanthropist Jonathon Prince announced today his plans to make history by becoming the athlete to run the first mile on the Moon.

With the aid of key industry partners and his global community of supporters, Prince plans to rebuild the excitement and optimism that defined the first forays into space nearly 50 years ago. Prince’s “Mile On the Moon” project will unfold over several years of intensive training, strategic partnerships and global outreach, with the goal of completing the first mile on the moon in 2016.

Prince’s “Mile On the Moon” project unfolds at the dawn of a new era in the space industry, now driven by visionaries in the private sector. He elaborates, “’Mile On the Moon’ is dedicated to all mankind as an inspiration to dream Big Dreams and realize that the sky is no longer the limit to human potential…”

Full story…

It sounds cool and Prince seems like a great guy. I hope he survives the training. The same site claims that he has run over 10,000 miles since 2005 for good causes. Maybe this guy hasn’t kept up, but that much running is bad for your health. It’s called “chronic cardio” and damages heart muscles and stresses the endocrine system.

Some may find this surprising, but it’s true. Don’t take this blog’s word for it…
See for yourself. Google these phrases-
long distance runners and heart damage
“chronic cardio” stress cortisol
(I could just link to articles but don’t want to get into debating the source.)


Sole-Source SLS, What Else Do People Expect?

MSFC had a big business meeting yesterday to kick off contracting for the SLS.

Here’s a preview by The Huntsville Times…

Blogs are already on about open competition for the big ticket items, but I haven’t seen anyone writing about what we knew all along, and that is this is going to be a big Boeing project. What else did you expect? The language in the NASA bill that approved SLS talked about using CxP contracts as much as practical to speed things up. We should not expect any big surprises on propulsion either.

If we want to see this project get half-done and cancelled in our lifetimes, NASA needs to streamline the process. This isn’t and wasn’t going to be a revolution.

At least critics have something else to write about besides Sen. Shelby and MSFC jobs. The truth here is MSFC is glad to get the SLS initial design work, but it is still letting people go, even today. The balance of work that MSFC will do on SLS is tiny compared to what was happening on Ares 1. MSFC was staffed up to design the Ares 1 Upper Stage and release designs for Boeing to manufacture. Those designers are gone. This time Boeing will do that part, and MSFC does “insight and oversight.” It’s hardly a make-work program for MSFC. It’s a “we still have too many people” program.

Read “NASA’s SLS Procurement: So Far, Sole Source Only” on Nasawatch…

From Spacepolitics…

NASA’s plan to sole-source most elements of the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket has led one member of Congress to complain to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). “I have serious concerns with NASA’s attempt to avoid holding a full and open competition to acquire the SLS,” Congressman Tom McClintock (R-CA) wrote in a September 22 letter to the GAO, provided by the advocacy group Tea Party in Space (TPIS).

McClintock wrote that he believed NASA’s plans to procure key elements of the SLS through modifying existing contracts made them “de facto sole source awards” that could be in violation of the 1984 Competition in Contracting Act, which allows sole source awards only when there is a “single responsible source” to meet government needs…

Full story…

Nice try Tom, but a waste of time.


Senate Saves the James Webb Space Telescope

From Universetoday-

The 2012 fiscal year appropriation bill, marked up today by the Senate, allows for continued funding of the James Webb Space Telescope and support up to a launch in 2018! Yes, it looks like this bird is going to fly.

The James Webb Space Telescope will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System. JWST will be a large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror…

Full story…


Space Junk FAQ: Falling Space Debris Explained

Space junk was in the news a lot last week. The news comes and goes, and the junk is still there. Space.com ran this cool FAQ about it-

What is orbital debris?

Orbital debris is any man-made object in orbit about Earth which no longer serves a useful purpose.

What are examples of orbital debris?

Derelict spacecraft and upper stages of launch vehicles, carriers for multiple payloads, debris intentionally released during spacecraft separation from its launch vehicle or during mission operations, debris created as a result of spacecraft or upper stage explosions or collisions, solid rocket motor effluents, and tiny flecks of paint released by thermal stress or small particle impacts.

How much orbital debris is currently in Earth orbit?

More than 22,000 objects larger than 4 inches (10 cm) are currently tracked by the U.S. Space Surveillance Network…

Full story…


If You Can’t Go Anywhere, Might as Well Write About it Correctly

According to Scientific American, Goddard is hosting a workshop in November to help writers do “hard Sci-Fi,” writing about space that is technically correct. This is so sci-fi doesn’t focus too much on magic or stuff that is impossible.

This sounds cool and makes sense. Besides, of you can’t make up your mind or get the money to go anywhere, you might as well encourage people to write about it correctly!

Full story…


JWST Cost Overruns vs SLS Cost Overruns at Orlando Sentinel

Mike Thomas at the Orlando Sentinel doesn’t think the SLS will ever fly. There will be delays and cost inflation, as usual. Since this is also true for JWST, he argues “in for a billion, in for a zillion” on the telescope and just cancel the rocket.

From The Orlando Sentinel-

A House spending committee wants to whack NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.

It is the planned super-duper replacement for Hubble, which is an orbiting toilet-paper tube by comparison.

Astronomers say the Webb scope could pick up light waves from the very first stars. It would take us back 13.7 billion years — or 6,000 years if you’re in the Republican presidential primary — to when it all began.

So what are a few measly cost overruns compared with that?

We have a big decision to make: We can either go billions over budget on mismanaged science projects, or we can go billions over budget on even more mismanaged manned-spaceflight programs.

But we no longer can go billions over budget on both.

And so I choose the mismanaged science projects.

James Webb certainly qualifies. In typical fashion, NASA sold it by underestimating the cost and the launch date.

NASA understands that after dollars start flowing to aerospace contractors and congressional constituents, nobody will pull the plug. There may be shrill Government Accountability Office reports and perfunctory political showboating about costs, but the bucks must go on.

This is how we ended up with a space shuttle that cost $1.5 billion per launch…

Full story…


Huntsville Space Professionals planning October town hall event

Mark your calendar…

From The Huntsville Times-

National and local private sector space employers will get a chance to see how Huntsville can support private space exploration efforts at a late October Table Top hosted by Huntsville Space Professionals.

The one-day meeting, set for October 23 or 24, will ”show the commercial space industry the capabilities Huntsville has and the talent we have here,” said HSP Communications Director Chris McLemore.   Companies invited include Space X, Virgin Galactic, Sierra Nevada, Blue Origin, Zero-G, Bigelow Aerospace, and other commercial space industry leaders.

“We consider these companies to be the private space industry heavy hitters over the next several years,” said McLemore. “We want to hear their visions and their goals.”

The location has not been set, but McLemore said likely venues include either the U.S. Space and Rocket Center or the Davidson Center…

Full story…