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Space Shuttle Endeavour landed on time at 2:35 am EDT this morning at Kennedy Space Center, FL. This night landing is the end of Endeavour's final space mission.
Space Shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to make its 25th and final landing at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in the wee hours of tomorrow morning. The first landing attempt is at 2:35 am EDT and the second at 4:11 am EDT.
If the shuttle cannot land for any reason, additional opportunities are available on Thursday at KSC and at Edwards Air Force Base, CA.
The following events may be of interest in the week ahead. For more information, see our calendar on the right menu or click the links below. Congressional activities are subject to change; check the relevant committee's website for up to date information.
During the Week
Monday-Wednesday, May 30-June 1
Wednesday, June 1
Wednesday-Friday, June 1-3
Wednesday - June 10
Friday, June 3
Space shuttle Endeavour undocked from the International Space Station on schedule, and now begins its final journey home. Landing is scheduled for June 1.
Space Shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station at 11:55 pm EDT, less than an hour from now. Landing is expected on Wednesday, June 1.
Heated debate over "arsenic life" that began five months ago (see our story) continues this week with the formal publication of the team's findings in the journal Science (subscription required). The debate began after a team of scientists announced discovery of a life-form that seemed to dispute one of the fundamental truths of life -- a microbe that could thrive on arsenic.
Last December, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) research fellow Felisa Wolfe-Simon and her team published results of an experiment involving a microbe found in Mono Lake in Northern California. When placed into conditions lacking phosphorous - one of the building blocks of life - and rich in arsenic, the organism, dubbed GFAJ-1, was able to replace the necessary element with the chemically similar, yet ordinarily toxic, one and live, they claimed. NASA hinted at the finding in a press release preceding the press conference that announced a finding that would have implications for astrobiology -- the search for life elsewhere in the universe. Although the discovery is here on Earth, the implications of the finding question the most basic assumptions of life and offers new considerations for NASA's astrobiology program.
Hard to tell how much of this to take for real and how much is just comedic bantering, but John Bobey's musings on HuffPost Comedy, part of the Huffington Post, certainly provoke a smile (or is it a wince?) and suggests the challenges NASA actually does face in connecting with the public.
To celebrate President John F. Kennedy's so-called "moon speech" delivered to Congress 50 years ago, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) put together a concert, appropriately held at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. on May 25. Performances by the Space Philharmonic orchestra complemented a series of images and videos from NASA's 50 years of human spaceflight missions that were set in motion by President Kennedy's challenge.
With appearances by Jean Kennedy Smith, sister of President Kennedy, along with actresses Nichelle Nichols and June Lockhart (from the original Star Trek and Lost in Space television series respectively) and musician Herbie Hancock, the night was full of surprises. NASA images were paired with Beethoven, the Star Trek theme and even "Somewhere" from West Side Story.
Representatives of the two companies under contract to provide commercial cargo services to keep the International Space Station (ISS) operating after the shuttle program ends and a top NASA official reassured a congressional subcommittee this morning that they would be ready soon.
Gwynne Shotwell, President of SpaceX, and Frank Culbertson, Senior Vice President of Orbital Sciences Corp., each told the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee that they are confident they can meet their current schedules. Most of the development work is completed, they said, and test flights of their launch vehicles (Falcon 9 and Taurus 2) and capsules (Dragon and Cygnus) are due to be finished by the end of 2011. Cargo services will begin in 2012, they asserted.
In a report released today. the Government Accountability Office (GAO) left no doubt about its assessment of the Department of Defense's (DOD's) plans to enhance its Space Situational Awareness (SSA) capabilities.
"DOD has significantly increased its investment and planned investment in SSA acquisition efforts in recent years to address growing SSA capability shortfalls. Most efforts designed to meet these shortfalls have struggled with cost, schedule, and performance challenges and are rooted in systemic problems that most space acquisition programs have encountered over the past decade. Consequently, in the past 5 fiscal years, DOD has not delivered significant new SSA capabilities as originally expected. To its credit, the Air Force recently launched a space-based sensor that is expected to appreciably enhance SSA. However, two critical acquisition efforts that are scheduled to begin development within the next 2 years--Space Fence and the Joint Space Operations Center Mission System (JMS)--face development challenges and risks, such as the use of immature technologies and planning to deliver all capabilities in a single, large increment, versus smaller and more manageable increments. It is essential that these acquisitions are placed on a solid footing at the start of development to help ensure their capabilities are delivered to the warfighter as and when promised. GAO has consistently recommended that reliable acquisition business cases be established, such as maturing technologies prior to development start, utilizing evolutionary development, and stabilizing requirements in order to reduce program risks. For efforts that move forward with less mature technologies, assessments of the cost, schedule, and performance implications of utilizing backup technologies, if they exist, could provide the knowledge needed to determine whether the efforts are worth pursuing or the investment trade-offs that may need to be made."
Events of Interest