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Former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe and his son both survived the airplane crash in Alaska, according to the New York Times. Former Senator Ted Stevens did not. News reports say that of the nine passengers on the private plane, four survived and five did not. Mr. O'Keefe reportedly is one of three survivors airlifted to an Anchorage hospital.
In an editorial yesterday, the Washington Post said that "U.S. space policy is on a collision course with itself."
The part of U.S. space policy the Post is talking about is the human space flight program. It compares the Obama plan with those put forth in the House and Senate NASA authorization bills and concludes that --
UPDATE: The NRC briefing on Astro2010 has been added for Friday.
Monday-Thursday, August 9-12
Tuesday, August 10
Tuesday-Wednesday, August 10-11
Thursday, August 12
Friday, August 13
NASA wants to buy data from industry on lunar landing technology demonstrations and imagery. The agency is issuing a "Broad Agency Announcement" (BAA) for multiple small firm fixed price contracts with a total value of up to $30.1 million through 2012.
Privately funded entities, like those participating in the Google Lunar X-Prize, could sell NASA data and information "related to landing using a human mission profile; identification of hazards during landing; precision landing; and imagery and long-duration surface operations."
The National Research Council (NRC) will release the Astro2010 Decadal Survey for astronomy and astrophysics at a public briefing on Friday, August 13, at 11:00 am. Roger Blandford, a Stanford professor and chairman of the NRC study committee that wrote the report, will lead the briefing along with several other members of the committee. The report prioritizes ground- and space-based research in astronomy and astrophysics for the next decade. The briefing will be at the NRC's Keck Center, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, DC.
Spacewalkers Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson set a new record for the length of an International Space Station (ISS) spacewalk yesterday, but their efforts were stymied by a "quick disconnect" (QD) fitting that wouldn't cooperate. The 8 hour 3 minute spacewalk may be only the first of three, rather than two, needed to replace a failed pump that is part of the ISS cooling system.
Four ammonia coolant lines and five electrical lines need to be disconnected in order to replace the pump. The QD fittings worked properly on the other coolant lines, but on the so-called M3 line, ammonia began leaking out. Eventually Wheelock was able to secure the line and install a "spool positioning device" to maintain proper pressure in the ammonia line until NASA can determine how to proceed.
UPDATE, AUGUST 10: The House did not take up this bill during its one day return according to Congress Daily (subscription required). The publication stated that House Speaker Pelosi remains dissatisfied with the provisions in the bill regarding who in Congress should be briefed on highly classified intelligence matters. Congress Daily says that this was the last best chance for the bill to be passed by the House this year, and the lack of action dooms the bill.
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.
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