Posts tagged NASA headquarters

NASA Offers Shuttles at Clearance Prices, Is Investigating Cocaine Found in Hangar

For nearly three decades (since 1981), the Space Shuttle was an iconic symbol of the American space program and the country’s primary way of reaching space. Now as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is working on its replacement, it’s putting the famous spacecraft up for sale.

NASA in December 2008 first offered the Shuttles for sale, hoping to find buyers among museums, schools and elsewhere. In total, NASA reportedly was offering two of its current fleet of three shuttles for sale for $42M USD a piece (as well as potentially offering the Enterprise, a shuttle prototype).

Over its history NASA has built five operational shuttles. The first shuttle, OV-102 Columbia flew 27 times before tragically disintegrating (killing all crew aboard) upon reentry in 2003. NASA also lost its second Shuttle, OV-099 Challenger to a tragic disaster back in 1986. Currently, there are three Shuttles that have survived their service — OV-103 Discovery, OV-104 Atlantis, and OV-105 Endeavour, which last flew in September, November, and July of 2009, respectively.

Read the rest…

VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 10.5/11 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

NASA Focuses Next Mission on Venus, Asteroid or the Moon

NASA has narrowed the choices for its next unmanned space mission down to three potential expeditions: one aimed at Venus and the others promising to return samples of an asteroid or the moon.

But only one of those contenders will get the green light for $650 million in funding (which excludes rocket costs) and a launch sometime before Dec. 30, 2018. The competition is part of NASA’s New Frontiers program to develop medium-class missions to explore the solar system.

“These are projects that inspire and excite young scientists, engineers and the public,” said Ed Weiler, NASA’s associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, in a statement.

NASA has set aside $3.3 million in seed money for each of the three potential missions in 2010 to flesh out their project concepts, feasibility, costs and management plans. The proposals were submitted in July 2009 and a final selection will be made in mid-2011.

“These three proposals provide the best science value among eight submitted to NASA this year,” Weiler said.

Here’s a look at the top contenders vying for NASA’s next New Frontiers mission slot:

Target: Venus — The Surface and Atmosphere Geochemical Explorer (SAGE) mission to Venus would send a probe plunging through the planet’s atmosphere to land on its harsh surface. The spacecraft would perform extensive measurements of the Venusian atmosphere and weather on the way down, and then dig into the ground to study surface composition and mineralogy.

Read more here…

VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 11.0/11 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

NASA’s Shuttle, Satellite, and Space Telescope fleet triumph in 2009

For NASA, 2009 proved to be a stellar year, one filled with five extremely successful Space Shuttle missions (one of which repaired the Hubble Space Telescope), the test flight of the Ares I-X rocket, the launch of the Kepler Space Telescope, the launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and companion spacecraft the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), and the launch of the WISE spacecraft earlier this month.

In all, the first half of 2009 proved an extremely challenging and rewarding time for NASA. Form January to June, NASA completed a complicated analysis of the Space Shuttle fleets Flow Control Valves, launched the Kepler Space Telescope to search for extra-solar Earth-like planets, conducted the STS-119 Shuttle mission, performed a dual-pad flow for STS-125 and STS-400 and the subsequent and highly successful STS-125 mission to upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope, and launched LRO/LCROSS.

In a recent interview with NASASpaceFlight.com, Space Shuttle Program Launch Integration Manager Mike Moses talked extensively about the incredible year the Shuttle processing teams had and their ability to accomplish everything they did in 2009.

“It was all about the teams and their ability to create triple and quadruple redundancies in schedules,” Moses said.

“On the surface, it didn’t appear that we had all that challenging of a year. But if you take it month by month you can really see the issues the teams worked through and the amazing jobs those teams did to get us into a launch posture six times this year.”

Read the rest of this article here…

VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 10.0/11 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

Trio of NASA missions in 2010 will probe answers to secrets of the Earth, sun

Earth view from space

Taken by astronaut William Anders from the Apollo 8 spacecraft, this December 1968 photo of Earth rising over the lunar surface would become one of the most famous images of the 20th century. Credit: NASA

NASA heads into 2010 with the bittersweet assignment of retiring the space shuttle after nearly three decades. But that’s not all the agency has planned: There are also launches of three new satellites aimed at better understanding the Earth’s climate and oceans, and the sun.

Two of the probes will examine Earth — specifically the concentration of salt in the world’s oceans and the presence of aerosol particles, such as soot, in the atmosphere. A third mission will study the sun and its effect on space weather including solar flares that can disrupt communication on Earth.

All three come at a critical time for NASA. Data from the two Earth probes will likely influence global-warming research, and the trio of launches could serve as bright spots in a year otherwise dominated by debate over the future of the agency’s manned space program.

“They are extraordinary timely,” said Michael Freilich, head of NASA’s Earth-science division, of the two Earth probes. “It is a quest for understanding of the Earth system and [to improve] our ability to predict how our wonderful environment and our planet is going to change in the future.”

Combined, the three missions will cost more than $1.5 billion.

Get the full details here…

VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 11.0/11 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)

Happy Holidays from orbit17.com – All the best to you and yours :)

Geminid shower in California

Geminid meteor pierces the night sky over California’s Mojave Desert Credit: Wally Pacholka, TWAN

Like a silver spear cast from the heavens, the bright streak of a Geminid meteor pierces the night sky over California’s Mojave Desert during the annual meteor shower’s 2009 peak.

Geminids are slower than other shooting stars and are known to make beautiful long arcs across the sky. This could be because they’re born of debris from a dormant comet and so are made mostly of hard, sun-baked rock that takes longer to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere, experts suggest.

Geminid Meteor Shower: Rising Star

The Geminids have been historically overlooked, simply because of their timing so close to the busy holiday season and during frigid winter nights, astronomers say.

But that’s beginning to change, thanks to the Geminids’ rising intensity over the past few decades.

In fact, for many astronomers, the December meteors have now dethroned the more popular August Perseid meteor shower as the shooting star event of the year.

“It may come as a surprise to many, but the Geminids are currently richer and are brighter on average,” said Anthony Cook, astronomy observer at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California.

Why the sudden illumination?

Earth is plowing deeper every year into an ancient stream of rocky debris left behind by a mysterious 3.1-mile-wide (5-kilometer-wide) object that orbits the inner solar system, he said.

When Earth’s atmosphere crosses paths with that debris cloud, the rocks are superheated and burn out—and new Geminids are born.

Geminids’ Mystery Parent

The Geminid meteors all appear to be chips off a mysterious rocky object called 3200 Phaethon.

Other meteor showers come from material shed by melting comets—which are massive chunks of dirty ice and rock—as they pass close to the sun. (See asteroid and comet pictures.)

But no one knows for sure whether the Geminids’ parent object, first identified in 1983, is an asteroid or the core of an ancient comet that simply sputtered out.

Recent observations of Phaethon, though, suggest it’s a nearly dormant comet, and the Geminids’ parent is now officially classified as such by NASA.

The research revealed that Phaethon is the rocky skeleton of a comet that lost its ice after too many close encounters with the sun, according to NASA.

The shooting stars’ rocky, hard exterior—as well as the fact that they, unprotected by ice, get baked by the sun—may help explain why Geminids are slower and last longer in the sky than other shooting stars, said Peter Brown, a meteor expert at the University of Western Ontario in Canada.

“They have the ability to penetrate deeper into Earth’s atmosphere,” Brown said, “and burn up at much lower altitudes than meteors associated with the Perseids and Leonids.”

VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 11.0/11 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)

Obama Gives NASA Bigger Budget, Backs New Rocket, Cancels Ares 1

Ares Shuttle comparisons

President Barack Obama will ask Congress next year to fund a new heavy-lift launcher to take humans to the moon, asteroids, and the moons of Mars, ScienceInsider has learned. The president chose the new direction for the U.S. human space flight program Wednesday at a White House meeting with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, according to officials familiar with the discussion. NASA would receive an additional $1 billion in 2011 both to get the new launcher on track and to bolster the agency’s fleet of robotic Earth-monitoring spacecraft.

The current NASA plan for human exploration is built around the $3.5 billion Constellation program, which would provide a way to get humans to the space station and beyond. But its initial launcher, Ares 1, has faced a string of cost and technical problems, and it was excluded from several options for future space flight put forth earlier this year by an outside panel chaired by retired aerospace executive Norman Augustine. Although that panel suggested a $3 billion boost to NASA’s $18.7-billion-a-year budget in order to take a firm next step in human space flight, Obama’s support for a $1 billion bump next year represents a major coup for the agency given the ballooning deficit and the continuing recession. And NASA just won a $1 billion boost from Congress for 2010 in a bill signed by the president.

Continue reading the report here…

VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 11.0/11 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)

NASA, Google offer more precise emissions tracking

COPENHAGEN — The question is a potential deal-killer: If nations ever agree to slash greenhouse gas emissions, how will the world know if they live up to their pledges?

The answer is in space, experts say — both outer space and cyberspace.

NASA, the wonder agency of the 1960s, and Google, the go-to company of the early 21st Century, are trying to give the world the ability to monitor both the carbon dioxide pollution and the levels of forest destruction that contribute to global warming.

“Just having the thing flying around there imaging would just about make everybody act differently,” said professor Steve Pacala, director of the Princeton Environmental Institute. “The idea that you could pull a fast one would be different.”

Google, meanwhile, has rolled out a new program call Earth Engine which essentially is a massive storehouse for satellite and other data that forest countries will be able to access for free by the time of the next U.N. climate conference in Mexico next year.

Deforestation is the biggest climate change culprit in much of the developing world, and industrial countries plan to pay billions of dollars to poor countries to stop deforestation. The Google system could help everyone keep track of what forests are saved.

The rest of the news article here…

VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 0.0/11 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

NASA maps Mercury, plans for 2011 orbit extravaganza

NASA’s Mercury planet exploration team this week said they have created critical tool for the first orbital observations of the planet – a global map of Mercury that will help scientists pinpoint craters, faults, and other features that will be essential for the space agency’s extensive 2011 mission.

That’s when NASA’s satellite MESSENGER (The Mercury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging, or MESSENGER) will become the first spacecraft to actually orbit Mercury — about 730 times — beaming back pictures and never-before-available pictures and information on the planet. To get into its proper orbit, MESSENGER has taken the scenic route through the solar system, including one flyby of Earth, two flybys of Venus, and three flybys of Mercury.

Continue reading…

VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 0.0/11 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Five NASA space shuttle flights remain

NASA shuttle

NASA says space shuttle Endeavour will begin the last year of shuttle flights by delivering the final U.S. module of the International Space Station.

That STS-130 mission is targeted for launch Feb. 7 from the Kennedy Space Center.

NASA officials said they will preview the mission during a series of briefings Friday, Jan. 15, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. NASA Television and the agency’s Web site will broadcast the briefings live.

Five shuttle missions are planned during 2010, with the final flight currently targeted for launch in September.

The rest here…

VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 0.0/11 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

MARS: Obama and NASA’s Bolden discuss space exploration #mars

Mars colony concept NASA

Mars Colony Concept Credit: NASA

Only a few details have dribbled out of the meeting in the Oval Office between President Obama and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. Most observers do not expect any news of an Obama space exploration policy before the 2011 budget is released this February.

However the Orlando Sentinel has a few tid bits.

“Among the things Bolden told lawmakers and Congressional staff was that the White House was now favoring a $1 billion top line increase to NASA’s budget in 2011. This would be far better than the 5 percent cut that all agencies, including NASA, were asked by the White House to prepare, but difficult to secure given the deficit cutting mindset in Congress now.

Continue reading…

VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 10.0/11 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
101.17 0.792.11 -->