Thursday, August 31, 2006

Lockheed Martin Wins Moonship Contract

Lockheed Martin was awarded the NASA Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) contract. Here are press releases from NASA and Lockheed Martin. The Orion spacecraft is planned to be the basic vehicle for the vision for human exploration of the Moon and beyond.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Roll Reversal

In an unexpected first for NASA, the Space Shuttle Atlantis was being rolled back to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) when NASA officials decided to reverse direction and roll the Shuttle back out to the launch pad, based on forecasts of a diminished Tropical Storm Ernesto. The return to the pad likely allows a launch attempt late next week.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Storms: Now and Then


Tropical Storm Ernesto is headed from Cuba and toward Florida, precipitating action to mitigate human and property loss and delaying the planned Shuttle Atlantis launch. Meanwhile, tomorrow's first anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Katrina is being marked.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Woman's Space Adventure Comes at a Pivotal Time

The unfortunate turn of events for would-be Japanese 'space tourist' Daisuke Enomoto, who failed a critical preflight physical, likely puts American entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari into the paying-passenger seat on September's Russian Soyuz flight to the International Space Station (ISS). Mrs. Ansari and her husband are already known in the space community for their prime sponsorship of the Ansari X_Prize. The prize was won by Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne in 2004 for demonstrating a privately developed suborbital spaceflight capability.

It seems to me kind of Providential that Mrs. Ansari would fly at this time. The Ansaris emigrated from Iran to America, and the official Iranian news agency matter-of-factly reported the story today. Her flight could be a real inspiration to the Iranian people, especially Iranian women, defying the Islamofascist idea of women's place in society. (What? No bag over her head!) This could pose an interesting challenge to Mahmoud & the Mullahs, especially as they continue their confrontation with the world over Iran's nuclear weapons development program
Dems' Population Crisis

An Opinion Journal Article by Arthur C. Brooks explains how the cultural attitudes, especially on life issues, prevailing in each of the two major political parties will profoundly influence the direction of American politics.
Given that about 80% of people with an identifiable party preference grow up to vote the same way as their parents, this gap translates into lots more little Republicans than little Democrats to vote in future elections. Over the past 30 years this gap has not been below 20%--explaining, to a large extent, the current ineffectiveness of liberal youth voter campaigns today.

Some of the elites react to this situation with a certain reality-challenged disdain.
As one liberal columnist in a major paper graphically put it, "Maybe the scales are tipping to the neoconservative, homogenous right in our culture simply because they tend not to give much of a damn for the ramifications of wanton breeding and environmental destruction and pious sanctimony, whereas those on the left actually seem to give a whit for the health of the planet and the dire effects of overpopulation." It would appear liberals have been quite successful controlling overpopulation--in the Democratic Party.

Don't those raising the old bogeyman of global 'overpopulation' realize that there are plenty of resources available for a growing human population?

Friday, August 18, 2006

And the Winners are...

...Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Rocketplane Kistler, who will share an approximately $500 million NASA will spend on the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration phase for commercially provided access to the International Space Station (ISS). Assuming these emerging companies step up to the challenge and that NASA follows through on it's commitment to this program, today's announcement marks a historic shift in the way NASA obtains access to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
Counting Planets

A proposal to be considered by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) next week would raise the count of planets in our Solar System to twelve, with some of the smaller ones, including Pluto, being classified as 'plutons'. However, the issue is still being debated by astronomers.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Today Was Almost A Very Terrible Day

British authorities have apparently thwarted a horrific terror plot about to be implemented to explode numerous U.S. bound planes, possibly killing thousands of people. The details are still unfolding, but it appears to have the characteristics of an Al Qaida operation.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

James Van Allen, 1914-2006

Physicist James Van Allen, whose experiment aboard Explorer-1, America's first satellite, revealed the radiation belts around Earth that bear his name, died today at the age of 91. Dr. Van Allen was involved in numerous other space research missions, although he was a severe critic of the human spaceflight program.

May he and his family be in our prayers.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Close Race

It looks like Joe Lieberman will lose his Connecticut U.S. Senate primary battle to Ned Lamont by a narrow margin (now under 4% with ~86% of precincts reporting). This will put him in good shape for his planned run as an independent. This could be a most interesting outcome, having Joe L. in the Senate as an independent after being narrowly ousted by the left wing of the Democratic Party.
Adult Stem Cells Good For Business

An investment analyst recommends biotech investors put their money into adult stem cells.
Based in California, SmallCap Sentinel has been issuing investment information for 23 years and analyst D.R. Clark says adult stem cell research firms are a better buy.

"As the headline-grabbing battle regarding embryonic stem cell research rages, adult stem cell sources continue to provide an ever-broadening array of life-improving possibilities," Clark said in a statement obtained.

"Researchers are using the far less controversial adult stem cells to attack enormous medical problems and are confident enough in their successes thus far to seek the protection of U.S. Patents," he added.

UPDATE 8/10: More investment analysts are bullish on adult stem cells.
"From a Wall Street perspective, adult stem cells are a much better investment," Stephen Dunn of Dawson James Securities, told CNN. "These are the guys who are going to be in the news in 2007 and 2008."

"Embryonic stem cell research hasn't kept up pace with adult stem cell research," Dunn added. "Adult stem cell research is advancing so far you might not need embryonic stem cells. If the federal government is reluctant to put their money into it, then Wall Street is as well."

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Mars Society Conference

I spent the last three days attending the Mars Society Conference here in DC. While I didn't attend Thursday's session, NASA Administrator Mike Griffin and SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk were the first days key speakers and a Mars Blitz on Capitol Hill accomplished 100 visits by teams of citizens in a three hour period. Friday's plenary speakers included NASA Exploration Systems head Scott Horowitz, SETI Institute's Scott Hubbard, and Space Telescope Science Institute's Matt Mountain. More plenary speakers and a rich selection of tracks and a lively banquet filled out the weekend.

The philosophical and policy tracks were particularly strong and I wound up attending these more than the technical tracks (although the Mars Society has a strong hands-on focus with its Mars Analog projects). My other impression was that while I saw some familiar faces, I met some people who joined the space community (outside of professional roles) through the Mars Society. Their overall thinking about space is the same as that of members of the other space organizations I'm active in. Look for several accounts of the conference at HobbySpace and Space Politics.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Videos from the War

Checkout Vital Perspectives for some unique information, imagery, and videos of Israel's war with Hezbollah. (Hat tip to PowerLine Blog.)

A prime example is this sequence which shows a Hezbollah terrorist carrying weapons into a house, then firing the missiles toward Israel. The Israelis get the last shot as the video concludes with the house being destroyed.