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NASA just announced that the new program manager of the Constellation program is Lawrence D. Thomas, who most recently was deputy program manager for Constellation at Marshall Space Flight Center. The new job is at Johnson Space Center (JSC). Charles M. Stegemoeller was appointed as Constellation deputy program manager. He had been director of the program planning and control office for the Constellation program at JSC. NASA "reassigned" Constellation program manager Jeff Hanley on May 26, prompting calls from some Members of Congress for an Inspector General investigation. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden was quoted as saying that Hanley lost his job because he was too "attached" to the Constellation program, which the Obama Administration wants to terminate.
The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) reports that it "completed the recovery of the Hayabusa capsule at 4:08 pm on June 14, 2010 (JST). The capsule is deemed intact at the moment." The recovery time was 3:08 am this morning EDT. Check back for more news as it becomes available.
Three new crew members for the International Space Station (ISS) are getting ready for launch on Russia's Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft on Tuesday.
Shannon Walker and Doug Wheelock from the United States and Fyodor Yurchikhin from Russia will join American Tracy Caldwell Johnson and Russians Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko who already are on the ISS. The Soyuz TMA-19 launch is scheduled for 5:35 pm EDT on Tuesday, June 15, with docking at the ISS expected on Thursday at 6:25 pm.
NASA has three openings in its Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs for Legislative Specialists at the GS-9 to GS-12 level. U.S. citizenship is required. Applications can be submitted until June 18. Check it out on USAJOBS.
UPDATE: See truly amazing video from a NASA DC-8 of the reentry on YouTube. You can see the mother spacecraft burning up as a fireball while the return capsule continues on its descent.
Scientists are wondering what samples are in the capsule. The Hayabusa mission survived a number of technical challenges during its 7 year mission, one of which reportedly was that the mechanism that was intended to grab a sample from the surface of the asteroid after the spacecraft landed malfunctioned. The BBC reports that Japanese scientists remain optimistic that, at a minimum, enough dust would have been generated by the spacecraft's landing that some of it would have made its way into the chamber of the return capsule.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA's) asteroid sample return spacecraft, Hayabusa, presumably has landed in Australia as planned. The BBC reports that the reentry spacecraft hit the top of the atmosphere at 13:50 GMT (9:50 am EDT), but it would take recovery teams several hours to pinpoint the landing site and determine if it landed intact. No information about the actual landing has yet appeared on JAXA's website. A video of the reentry is on UStream. The fireball begins to emerge at 2:58 into the video. Beautiful!
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 activities are subject to change; check the appropriate website for up-to-date information. All times are EDT.
During the Week
The House may take up the FY2010 supplemental appropriations bill: the Senate-passed version (H.R. 4899) or its own (not yet reported from committee). The Senate-passed version includes language stating that funds appropriated in FY2010 or before can be used to continue the Constellation program and NASA should not terminate Constellation contracts "for convenience."
Tuesday, June 15
Wednesday, June 16
Thursday, June 17
The bipartisan leadership of the House Science and Technology (HS&T) committee and its Space and Aeronautics subcommittee sent a letter to NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden yesterday, the text of which is available here. It asks for budget details by June 16, 2010 so the committee can proceed with writing an authorization bill for the agency, and stresses that the funding projections for NASA's human spaceflight program do not meet what the Augustine Committee said was necessary to fund any of the options it identified.
Signed by committee chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), full committee ranking member Ralph Hall (R-TX), subcommittee chairwoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and subcommittee ranking member Pete Olson (R-TX), the letter asks NASA to provide budget details about the new plan for human spaceflight taking into account the new initatives announced by President Obama on April 15 (a crew escape vehicle for the International Space Station and a $40 million jobs fund for Florida space workers). Gen. Bolden told the committee at a May 26 hearing that the agency would be submitting a revised FY2011 budget request "in the near future," but would not specify when.
The South Korean Navy may have recovered some of the debris from the country's failed rocket launch yesterday, reports the Yonhap News Service. The debris was recovered just south of Jeju Island, Yonhap reported. Latest speculation from Seoul is that the rocket exploded just before the first stage engine was about to reach maximum thrust. The first stage was built by Russia. The two countries are working together to determine the cause of the failure.
On Wednesday, the House passed the Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense (GRID) Act, H.R. 5026 (H. Rept. 111-493), whose purpose is to protect the U.S. bulk-power system and electric infrastructure. Cybersecurity and electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threats and vulnerabilities are addressed in the bill. The EMP vulnerabilities include severe space weather events, or "geomagnetic storms" as they are called in the bill.
Space weather refers to the effects on Earth and its environs of the Sun's "coronal mass ejections" - more commonly known as solar flares. It has long been known that solar flares disrupt high frequency radio communications, but they can also disrupt the Earth's magnetic field causing voltages in electric transmission lines that can damage the large transformers that are critical components of the electric grid. A 1989 power outage that affected a large swath of northeastern Canada was caused by such an event.
Events of Interest