Tuesday, October 31, 2006

It's a GO!!!


NASA Administrator Mike Griffin today announced the decision to proceed with one more Shuttle servicing mission to repair and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). I attended the announcement which brought a standing ovation from the crowd of Hubble NASA and contractor staff at the Goddard Spaceflight Center. The event also included a stem-winding speech in support of the decision by Senator Barbara Mikulski, who has vigorously supported the Hubble project on Capitol Hill. (Yes, even with my feisty red-state of mind, I could stand and applaud Babs on this subject.)

While planning and preparation for this mission has been underway for some time, having it formally placed on the Shuttle manifest and having a crew assigned (including three Hubble servicing veterans) will expedite the activities leading to the (no earlier than) May 2008 launch date.

My colleagues and I will have much to do over the next eighteen months or so, working on this exciting mission.
An Ethical Stem Cell Breakthrough

British Scientists have developed a 'mini' version of a human liver which could lead to full scale transplants using laboratory developed livers. The scientists used umbilical cord blood stem cells and NASA developed technology to achieve this breakthrough.
Working in collaboration with experts from the US, the Newcastle scientists succeeded in separating out the stem cells from blood removed from the umbilical cord minutes after birth.

They are then placed in a 'bioreactor' - a piece of electrical equipment developed by NASA to mimic the effects of weightlessness. Inside this, the freedom from the force of gravity allows them to multiply more quickly than usual.

Then, various hormones and chemicals are added to coax the stem cells into turning into liver tissue.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Michael Steele Rising

Some recent developments have further energized the already passionate supporters of Lt. Gov. Michael Steele's campaign for U.S. Senate from Maryland.

First was Michael Steele's quick response to the Michael J. Fox ad supporting embryonic stem cell research and Steele's Democratic opponent, Rep. Ben Cardin.
Michael Steele said, "There is only one candidate in this race who voted against stem cell research and it's Congressman Ben Cardin. Ben Cardin had a chance to support stem cell research that would not destroy human embryos, and he voted against it - not because of his beliefs on the issue, but as a transparent political stunt."

Unfortunately, many other Democrats and some Republicans in the House also voted to reject this bill supporting promising and ethical stem cell research. It just shows that the agenda for this hype over embryonic stem cell research has less to do with advancing medical science and more to do with trying to further erode society's respect for the dignity of every human life.

Now, after flubbing a televised debate last night, Cardin was a no-show for a NAACP debate tonight in Charles County. Cardin's campaign says he never confirmed his participation, but this doesn't seem like a smart move while trying to hold onto the traditionally Democratic African-American vote. Still to come, another NAACP debate on Saturday and a nationally televised debate on Meet the Press on Sunday.

Stay tuned. This is getting really interesting.

UPDATE: 10/27/06
The Steele campaign has released a powerful ad featuring Dr. Monica Turner, Michael Steele's sister, speaking to the stem cell issue. Watch the video here. Here's a link to RCP Blog featuring the dueling ads.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

We Band of Brothers (and Sisters)

Gotta love Laura Ingraham. On her radio show this morning, she noted the traditional feast of St. Crispin, playing a reading from Shakespeare's Henry V which recounted the battle of Agincourt, and rallying her audience for our current political and military struggles.

Here are the final verses:
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,

This day shall gentle his condition:

And gentlemen in England now a-bed

Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

So much going on, so little time to blog. The deceptive cloning amendment in Missouri
is going down while Jim Talent is edging up. Here in Maryland, Michael Steele is on the move. So much more happening but it's past my bed time. Got to rest to carry on the fight.

Friday, October 20, 2006

State of Enchantment

I'm back from a meeting at JSC earlier this week, and will be doing more political activity this weekend. But if I could be somewhere else this weekend, it would be in Las Cruces, NM, where the X-Prize Cup events are being held. Events include vertical rocket launches, lunar lander demonstrations, space elevator demonstrations, exhibits, conferences, etc.

Within two or three years, this annual event will feature actual suborbital spaceflights like those accomplished by the privately funded and developed SpaceShipOne in 2004. Already it is a hotbed of entrepreneurial space and educational activity, and is laying the groundwork for our expanding future in space.

This event is being covered by Space.com, which is providing a live webcast of events (Friday and Saturday), plus several other web sites and blogs.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Tenth Anniversary Wishes

Wednesday evening I went into DC to Charley Palmer's Steakhouse to join the 10th anniversary celebration of National Review Online. I got to chat with some well known Washington people and many other interested citizens. Thanks to Kathryn Jean Lopez and the others at NRO for putting on a fine party.

Also celebrating their tenth anniversary this week, the Fox News Channel. Happy anniversary to both fine organizations.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Meanwhile, Back on Earth...

...as I was making the previous post on Mars before going to bed, Fox News has just broken an unconfirmed report that North Korea has just performed it's first nuclear weapon test. AP and Fox News are now reporting that NK claims a successful test.
Mars Exploration: Striking New Images

Image of Rover Opportunity at Victoria Crater seen from MRO
Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

Ground view from edge of Victoria Crater from Rover Opportunity
Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

With so much going on in politics and other things these days, one can lose track of the continuing progress of exploration around the Solar System. But recent images from Mars, both from the ground with the Spirit and Opportunity Rovers, and from orbit with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), are too spectacular to overlook. Here's more description from Space.com.
A History Lesson Today's Feast Day

Michael Novak reminds us of the historic battle that occurred on October 7 that made this date become the Feast of the Rosary.
The two greatest naval forces ever assembled — 280 ships in the Turkish Armada, some 212 on the Christian side — came into each other’s sight on the brilliant morning of October 7. So confident was the Turkish admiral, Ali Pasha, that he sailed proudly at the center of his own Armada, bringing with him on vessels just to his rear his entire fortune, and even a part of his harem.

Historians tell us that all over Europe a pall fell. Few had hopes that the Christian fleet could avoid the doom that seemed to hang over Italy. The pope had urged all Christians to say the rosary daily on behalf of the brave crews on the Christian galleys. The rosary is a simple prayer that can be said in almost any setting, and had already achieved a certain popularity among humble folk. With each decade of the Hail Marys they had been taught to reflect upon a different event in the life of Jesus. The beads went through one’s fingers as regularly as the blood through one’s body, as regular as heartbeats and the breathing of the lungs.