Latest News

Space Shuttle Endeavour Lifts Off

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 08-Feb-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:17 PM)

UPDATE: The main engines have burned out, the External Tank has separated, and Endeavour is in orbit!

ORIGINAL STORY: The space shuttle Endeavour lifted off on its STS-130 mission at 4:14 am on February 8. The shuttle is taking the Tranquility module and the Cupola to the International Space Station (ISS).

Rep. John Murtha Dies

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 08-Feb-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:16 PM)

Representative John Murtha (D-PA), the powerful chairman of the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, has died according to the Associated Press. He had been hospitalized because of complications following gall bladder surgery.

UPDATE: Shuttle Launch Scrubbed for Today; NASA Will Try Again Tomorrow

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 07-Feb-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:18 PM)

UPDATE: NASA will try again tomorrow (Monday) morning at 4:14 am to launch Endeavour.


The launch of space shuttle Endeavour (STS-130) was scrubbed this morning because of weather. The next opportunity to launch is 4:14 am EST tomorrow according to, but a new launch time has not yet been announced by NASA..

Bolden Apologizes for Poor Roll Out of NASA's New Plan

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 07-Feb-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:12 PM)

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden held a press conference yesterday (Saturday) at Cape Canaveral in advance of the shuttle Endeavour launch (now rescheduled for tomorrow morning at 4:14 am). General Bolden apologized to the NASA workforce and members of Congress on Capitol Hill for not better preparing them for the dramatic changes announced in the NASA FY2011 budget. He said it was "screwed up" because he did not listen to his advisers about how to roll out the news, and consequently he learned a hard lesson. In answer to a question, he said that his hope is to have a heavy lift launch vehicle in the next couple of decades, preferably in the 2020-2030 time frame. A video of the press conference is available on NASA's YouTube channel.

NPR's Science Friday on NASA's New Plan

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 06-Feb-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:16 PM)

National Public Radio's Science Friday had a segment on NASA's new plan for human space flight today. First was a segment on other aspects of the science budget. The NASA part begins at about minute 30:00.

Host: Ira Flatow


  • Marcia Smith,
  • Andrew Chaikin, author, A Man on the Moon: The Voyage of Apollo Astronauts

UPDATE: Sen. Shelby Places Hold on All Nominations; Releases Them on Monday

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 05-Feb-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:18 PM)

UPDATE: Congress Daily reported on Monday, February 8, that Senator Shelby has released his hold because he has gotten the attention he wanted on the two issues.

ORIGINAL STORY: Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) has placed a blanket hold on all Obama administration nominees waiting for Senate confirmation, according to Congress Daily (subscription required).

Senator Shelby, ranking member of the Senate appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA, is one of the strongest supporters of NASA's Constellation Program, which would be terminated in the FY2011 NASA budget request. He issued a press release calling the FY2011 request a "death march for U.S. human space flight." However, NASA is not cited by Congress Daily as one of reasons that he placed holds on all Obama nominations -- meaning that they cannot proceed to the Senate floor for confirmation without 60 votes, which is more difficult for Democrats now that Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown has been sworn into office. The reasons cited in the Congress Daily account concern debate over the Air Force's competition for an aerial refueling contract, and frustration that the Obama Administration does not plan to fund an FBI center to analyze improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Alabama that was included as a congressionally-directed spending item ("earmark") in the FY2008 omnibus appropriations bill.

Shuttle on Track for Early Sunday Morning Launch

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 05-Feb-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:17 PM)

Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-130) is on track for launch at 4:39 am EST on Sunday, February 7. This will be the last night launch of the space shuttle and should be visible from many locations along the East Coast, weather permitting. NASA Administrator Bolden will hold a press conference at Kennedy Space Center at 10:00 am EST tomorrow (Saturday) that will be carried on NASA TV to talk about STS-130 and other NASA programs.

STS-130 will deliver the Tranquility module (also known as Node 3) and its Cupola to the International Space Station. After this flight, four more shuttle missions remain before the program is terminated. The remaining four flights and their currently scheduled launch dates are:

  • STS-131, Discovery, Mar. 18, 2010, MPLM and LMC
  • STS-132, Atlantis, May 14, 2010, ICC and MRM1
  • STS-134, Endeavour, July 29, 2010, AMS and ELC 3
  • STS-133, Discovery, Sept. 16, 2010, MPLM and ELC 4

According to, the option of an additional logistics mission, STS-135 (or STS 335), has been abandoned by NASA.

NASA Issues: Views of the Agency's Watchdogs: A Hearing Summary Now Available

Laura M. Delgado
Posted: 04-Feb-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:15 PM)

Key Issues and Challenges Facing NASA: Views of the Agency's WatchDogs is a summary of a February 3, 2010 hearing by the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee of the House Science and Technology Committee. It is availabile on the left menu under "Our Hearing Summaries" or by clicking here.

NASA Plan to Cancel Constellation "Alarming" Says Rep. Ralph Hall

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 03-Feb-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:15 PM)

Several members of the House committee that authorizes NASA activities made it clear that they are not happy with NASA's plans to terminate the Constellation program and replace it with a commercial alternative. At a hearing this morning, Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), ranking member of the full House Science and Technology Committee, called the plan "alarming."

"The Ares launcher and Orion crew vehicle have been designed to be a very safe and robust system. They have undergone rigorous engineering reviews. American taxpayers have invested nine billion dollars - and the agency and its contractors have spent five years - working to ensure that Constellation will be flexible, affordable, and safe. To simply toss this aside and gamble America's human spaceflight program on an undefined, untested system is alarming."

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), chair of the subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, said "My concern today is not numbers on a ledger, but rather the fate of the American dream to reach for the stars." Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX), ranking member of the subcommittee, expressed concern that "We are on the verge of abandoning human space flight in the near term, and I fear beyond that."

Not all the members were opposed to the idea, though. Rep. Rohrabacher (R-CA) was supportive of commercial human space flight, arguing that NASA had spent $9 billion just to get to the Ares 1-X test flight last year that he said used no new technology. He believes the commercial sector could get humans into space more cost effectively. Others pointed out that the $9 billion paid for much more than that one test.

A summary of the hearing will be posted here soon.

Lockheed Martin Unhappy With Decision to Cancel Orion as Part of Constellation Program

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 03-Feb-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:14 PM)

Lockheed Martin, prime contractor for the Orion spacecraft that is part of Project Constellation, issued a press release today expressing its disappointment with the decision to kill the Constellation program. Earlier rumors had been that one or both of the Ares launch vehicles would be canceled, but not the Orion crew capsule. However, the FY2011 budget request announced on Monday would terminate the entire Constellation program. Lockheed Martin noted that "nearly 4,000 people at more than 500 commercial companies and hundreds of small business suppliers" work on Orion.

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