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NASA has delayed the two spacewalks needed to repair one of the two cooling loops on the International Space Station (ISS). They now will take place on Saturday and Wednesday instead of Friday and Monday as earlier reported. The extra time is needed for preparations on the ground and on the ISS. Both spacewalks are still expected to begin at 5:55 am Central Time (6:55 am EDT) and will be covered on NASA TV.
The defense authorization bill may have hit a snag in the Senate, but the NASA authorization bill sailed through yesterday. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) praised passage of the legislation and called on the House to "take up this crucial bill in order to get NASA on track to continue its proud heritage of innovation and exploration."
Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) wants to bring the Department of Defense (DOD) authorization bill to the floor of the Senate when the Senate returns from its August break, but SASC ranking member Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) strenuously objected yesterday.
Sen. Levin was attempting to get a unanimous consent (UC) agreement to bring the bill to the floor in September, but Sen. McCain blocked the UC because he opposes some of the bill's provisions, especially repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military. Sen. McCain wants to wait on that issue until a promised survey is done of the morale of men and women in the military on that issue. He argues that the Democrats are trying to push a "social agenda on legislation ... intended to ensure the nation's security." Sen. Levin replied that the issue should be debated on the Senate floor and the committee's bill requires that the survey be done.
The Hill newspaper reports that the House may interrupt its summer recess and reconvene briefly, perhaps early next week, to pass a bill that would provide funds to states to avoid teacher layoffs.
With schools around the nation set to begin classes before the House is currently scheduled to return on September 14, there is pressure for the House to come back into session to deal with this issue. The Senate is expected to pass the bill this week, having succeeded in voting to end debate earlier today according to The Hill. The bill gives states $10 billion for teachers as well as $16 billion in Medicaid funding.
A new report sponsored by the Secure World Foundation (SWF) and published by George Washington University's Space Policy Institute provides an interesting comparison of the formation and operation of the U.S.-Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and today's need for multinational Space Situational Awareness (SSA).
The similarities and differences between the motivation behind NORAD at the beginning of the missile age and for SSA in this maturing space age were drawn from interviews with U.S. and Canadian military pesonnel who served in NORAD as well as a literature search. The report offers the following insights:
NASA announced yesterday that it will host a workshop in Washington, DC next week to "identify objectives for exploration missions to near-Earth objects." The workshop is August 10-11 at the Renaissance Mayflower hotel.
NASA has set Friday, August 6, as the day for the first of two spacewalks to fix a broken ammonia pump for one of the two International Space Station's cooling loops. As reported earlier, the pump blew a circuit breaker on the station Saturday night and it could not be reset. Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson were preparing for a spacewalk on Thursday already for an unrelated task and now will shift their attention to solving this problem instead.
A second spacewalk will take place on Monday, August 9, to complete the repairs. The pump is located on the exterior of the space station, on the S1 truss, and spare pumps are stored there. NASA stresses that space station systems are stable and the crew is in no danger.
NASA will hold a press conference tomorrow, August 2, at 4:00 pm EDT from Johnson Space Center to discuss plans for two spacewalks to fix a cooling pump that failed on Saturday. A circuit breaker tripped Saturday night resulting in "the failure of the Pump Module for [cooling] loop A that feeds ammonia to maintain the proper cooling for systems and avionics," according to NASA's ISS website. NASA says the crew is not in danger and the ISS is in a "stable configuration."
Astronauts Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson were already preparing for a spacewalk on Thursday. Their task will now change to replace the failed pump, which is on the exterior of the station -- on the S1 truss. Two spare pumps are stowed on the truss.
The following events may be of interest in the coming week. For more information, see our calendar on the right menu or click the links below. Congressional hearings are subject to change; check the committee's website for up to date information.
Tuesday - Wednesday, August 3-4
Wednesday-Thursday, August 4-5
Thursday-Friday, August 5-6
The Astro2010 astronomy and astrophysics Decadal Survey will be released on August 13, 2010 according to the National Research Council (NRC). Astro2010 is a joint effort of the NRC's Board on Physics and Astronomy and Space Studies Board. It prioritizes ground- and space-based astronomy and astrophysics missions for the next 10 years.
Events of Interest