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The first flight of the SpaceX Falcon 9 is still set for Friday a company spokeswoman, Emily Shanklin, said in an email tonight. The four-hour launch window opens at 11:00 am EDT. The next day has been reserved for a second attempt if needed. Weather is forecast to be 40% no go at this time, according to Shanklin.
Apparently hoping to dampen expectations for this much anticipated flight, the email emphasizes that the goal is to gather flight data and
The BBC reports that Jean-Jacques Dordain may be reappointed as Director General (DG) of the European Space Agency (ESA).
Dordain, a Frenchman, became DG in 2003 and is nearing the end of his second term. He was expected to be replaced by a German as head of the intergovernmental organization. The leading German candidate, Jan Woerner, announced on Monday that he did not want the job, saying on his blog that consequently France and Germany were jointly proposing that Dordain be asked to stay,the BBC reported.
ESA's 18 members are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
In an op-ed for The Washington Times yesterday, Paul Spudis and Bob Zubrin joined forces to oppose President Obama's new human space flight plan and support President Bush's Vision for Space Exploration. Spudis is a senior staff scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute and well known advocate for lunar research. Zubrin is an ardent supporter of human exploration of Mars and is President of the Mars Society. President Obama sees no need to return to the Moon "because we've been there before" and wants to focus on sending crews to orbit Mars first, with a landing only sometime within his lifetime. Thus it may not be as surprising as it would seem at first blush to see Spudis and Zubrin working together to support the Bush plan despite their past differences.
Legendary Russian rocket designer Boris Chertok has edited a new book forecasting the next century of spaceflight. Russian cosmonaut Yuri Baturin outlined the book's contents at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars this afternoon, emphasizing that it is a forecast, not a prediction.
The book's 40 authors incorporated science and science fiction to put forward their best guess as to what the 21st century will hold for the world, including for space activities. Somewhat surprisingly, they foresee little role for Russia in space past the 2020s, with the United States and China as the dominant players. They anticipate significant militarization of space and the first "space war" about 2050. They assert it will last two years and the results will be just like World War II - favorable to the United States. The pi ce de r sistance as the next century begins will be a "shocking event" according to Baturin: the first launch of an "artificial space pilot: not an automated device, but the product of artificial life." It terms of its impact on humanity, he likened it to Yuri Gagarin's 1961 flight that placed the first human into space.
Russian cosmonaut Yuri Baturin will speak at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars tomorrow (Tuesday, June 1) from 12:00-1:00 on "New Paradigms for International Space Programs: Prospects and Forecasts." The event will be in the 6th Floor auditorium of the Wilson Center, located at the Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC. No reservations are required; seating is on a first come first served basis. A photo ID is required for entrance to the building.
(This story has been updated to add the undocking and landing times.)
That will leave three crew aboard the station: Alexander Skvortsov, Tracy Caldwell Dyson, and Mikhail Kornienko. They will be joined by three new colleagues in two weeks: Doug Wheelock, Fyodor Yurchikhin, and Shannon Walker. For more on ISS comings and goings, visit NASA's ISS website.
UPDATE: Space News has published a story quoting SpaceX official Larry Williams as saying that Mr. Musk's financial situation is "irrelevant to the company and our future" because although he is the largest shareholder, "he is only one of a number of investors at this point." The focus of the article is that SpaceX told NASA that it would be eight months instead of five months between the first and second test flights of Falcon 9 that are part of NASA's COTS subsidy program. The first test launch of Falcon 9, with a Dragon mockup, is currently scheduled for June 4 but does not count as part of COTS, according to the article.
NASA's decision to "reassign" Constellation Program Manager Jeff Hanley prompted two key Senators to ask for an investigation by NASA's Inspector General. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee respectively, sent a letter to NASA's Inspector General, Paul Martin, asking him to look into the reassignment. Senator George LeMieux (R-FL) made a similar request according to the Orlando Sentinel's Write Stuff blog.
Some consider the reassignment to be a firing, though Hanley was elevated to the position of Deputy Director of Johnson Space Center for Strategic Capabilities. Hanley's reassignment was revealed to the public by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) on Wednesday as NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden was testifying to the House Science and Technology Committee. Saying she had just learned of it, she asked Bolden if it was true. Bolden replied that it was his understanding Hanley was being told that very morning. The Orlando Sentinel reported that after the hearing Bolden said Hanley was reassigned "because he was 'conflicted' and had become a lightning rod for controversy." NASAWatch published an email from Hanley to others in the Constellation program telling them that he had been told his services no longer were required as program manager.
If you're not on vacation next week, you should be! Congress is in recess and apart from the last day of the National Space Society's International Space Development Conference in Chicago on Monday, we couldn't find any space policy-related events to list. Enjoy the break! Congress will be back June 7.
Today the House passed the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act, H.R. 5116. Two previous attempts failed as we reported earlier. Though the bill does not directly affect NASA, the trouble it encountered in winning approval may presage what the remainder of the 111th Congress holds in store for science and technology issues in this hyper-political year.
The final vote was 262-150. According to Congress Daily (subscription required), success was due to a Democratic strategy that allowed members to vote on nine separate sections of the bill before the final vote. It reported that --
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