NASA news: astronauts send their first tweets from outer space

NASA astronauts atlantis sts-129

How cool is it when the Atlantis astronauts can share their mission experiences with us Earthlings, right from space? That’s right. Yup. Who would have believed it possible? NASA astronauts Leland Melvin and Robert Satcher are sending tweets from outer space while on their STS-129 mission. These messages are a great way to keep your kids interested in the on-going mission.

Read the rest and see their Tweets here…

Cosmonaut says Russia falling behind in space race

Russia lacks a viable program for developing a new spacecraft and risks losing its place as a leader in space travel, a veteran Russian cosmonaut said in an interview published Friday.

Efforts to build a successor to the 40-year old Soyuz spacecraft have dragged on with no end in sight, Mikhail Tyurin told the Novaya Gazeta newspaper.

Tyurin, a veteran of two missions to the International Space Station in 2001 and 2007, blamed the slow progress on a lack of clear goals and poor coordination.

Read more here…

MIT Technology Review: What Should Be the Next U.S. Space Rocket?

NASA’s launch of its Ares test rocket has Buzz Aldrin questioning the vehicle’s design and outlining the need for better rockets.

The launch of NASA’s new rocket, Ares I-X, on October 28 was the first test flight of a new launch vehicle since the Apollo missions. The flight was spectacular and historic, but the famous Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin says it was little more than a half-a-billion dollar political show.

Read the rest of this great article at www.technologyreview.com

The United States and China play footsie with joint space mission

The United States and China have agreed to step up discussions on cooperative space exploration, as both countries separately pursue ambitious plans to send a manned mission to the Moon by around 2020.

US president Barack Obama and Chinese president Hu Jintaro have agreed during a summit in Beijing this week to formalize joint space talks, beginning with exchange visits of their respective space agency chiefs next year.

“The United States and China look forward to expanding discussions on space science cooperation and starting a dialogue on human space flight and space exploration, based on the principles of transparency, reciprocity and mutual benefit,” a US-China joint statement released Tuesday said. “Both sides welcome reciprocal visits of the NASA Administrator and the appropriate Chinese counterpart in 2010.”

Read more here…

Astronauts install spare antenna and do maintenance on space station

Two astronauts breezed through the first spacewalk of their mission Thursday as they upgraded the International Space Station with a spare antenna and other gear.

Atlantis shuttle astronauts Mike Foreman and Robert Satcher Jr. zoomed through more than six hours of orbital work outside the station to install the large antenna and connect some new data cables. At times, they were two hours ahead of schedule.

Read the rest of the article here…

Shuttle Atlantis STS-129 takes off into Space, just as scheduled #nasatweetup

Atlantis STS-129 launch 11-16-2009

Space shuttle Atlantis rocketed into orbit Monday with six astronauts and a full load of spare parts for the International Space Station.

The supply run should keep the space station humming for years to come, and the shuttle astronauts in space through Thanksgiving.

Atlantis shot into a partly cloudy afternoon sky, to the delight of about 100 Twittering space enthusiasts who won front-row seats. It was NASA’s first launch “tweetup,” and the invitees splashed news — mostly tweeting “wow” about the liftoff — over countless cellphones and computers.

Read the article at the Globe and Mail

Strong Leonid Meteor Shower Peaks Early November 17th morning

One of the best annual meteor showers will peak in the pre-dawn hours Tuesday, and for some skywatchers the show could be quite impressive.

The best seats are in Asia, but North American observers should be treated to an above average performance of the Leonid meteor shower, weather permitting. The trick for all observers is to head outside in the wee hours of the morning – between 1 a.m. and dawn – regardless where you live.

The Leonids put on a solid show every year, if skies are clear and moonlight does not interfere. This year the moon is near its new phase, and not a factor. For anyone in the Northern Hemisphere with dark skies, away from urban and suburban lighting, the show should be worth getting up early to see.

Read more here…

STS-129 Launch Coverage – One hour away!

Nasa STS-129 Launch-pad

Track the exciting countdown to the launch of space shuttle Atlantis on the STS-129 mission beginning at 9:30 a.m. EST on Nov. 16. Liftoff is scheduled for 2:28 p.m. Blogger Steve Siceloff will deliver live updates from the Firing Room inside the Launch Control Center as the clocks tick backward to launch.

Follow the coverage at www.nasa.gov

BANG! The moon is alive and wet! Water on the moon!

Water on the moon close up

Spacecraft that crashed into the moon last month kicked up a relatively small plume. But scientists have confirmed the debris contained water — 25 gallons of it — making lunar exploration exciting again.

The lunar dud for space enthusiasts has become a watershed event for NASA.

Experts have long suspected there was water on the moon. So the thrilling discovery announced Friday sent a ripple of hope for a future astronaut outpost in a place that has always seemed barren and inhospitable.

“We found water. And we didn’t find just a little bit. We found a significant amount,” Anthony Colaprete, lead scientist for the mission, told reporters as he held up a white water bucket for emphasis.

He said the 25 gallons of water the lunar crash kicked up was only what scientists could see from the plumes of the impact.

NASA Announces Discovery Of Lunar Ice Field Nov 13 2009

Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS project scientist and principal investigator from NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California:

Scientists have long suspected that permanently shadowed craters at the south pole of the moon could be cold enough to sustain water frozen at the surface and have been analyzing a mile-high plume of debris kicked up by the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite.
(Water has already been detected on the moon by a NASA-built instrument on board India’s now defunct Chandrayaan-1 probe and other spacecraft, though it was in very small amounts and bound to the dirt and dust of the lunar surface)
NASA plans to return astronauts to the moon by 2020 for extended missions on the lunar surface.

Indeed, yes, we found water. And we didn’t find just a little bit, we found a significant amount