Pinky, Wetherbee & Shepherd Join Astronaut Hall of Fame

Former NASA astronaut George "Pinky" Nelson
Former NASA astronaut George "Pinky" Nelson

NASA PRESS RELEASE

NASA Television will provide live coverage of the 2009 U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Saturday, May 2, at 3 p.m. EDT. The ceremony will take place at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

Joining the hall of fame this year are former astronauts George “Pinky” Nelson, one of only four space shuttle astronauts to fly untethered in space using NASA’s Manned Maneuvering Unit; William Shepherd, commander of the first crew to live aboard the International Space Station; and Jim Wetherbee, commander of the longest docked shuttle-Mir mission.

CNN reporter John Zarrella will host the event. More than 20 hall of fame astronauts are expected to attend, including Scott Carpenter, Walt Cunningham, Jim Lovell and Bob Crippen.

OSU Researchers Develop Hypersonic Control System Software

X-43A Hypersonic Experimental Vehicle -- Artist Concept in Flight. Credit: NASA Dryden Flight Research Center.
X-43A Hypersonic Experimental Vehicle -- Artist Concept in Flight. Credit: NASA Dryden Flight Research Center.

OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY PRESS RELEASE

When a jet is flying faster than the speed of sound, one small mistake can tear it apart. And when the jet is so experimental that it must fly unmanned, only a computer control system can pilot it.

Ohio State University engineers have designed control system software that can do just that — by adapting to changing conditions during a flight.

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Fragile Wilkins Ice Shelf Destabilizing

Wilkins Ice Shelf
Wilkins Ice Shelf


ESA PRESS RELEASE

Satellite images show that icebergs have begun to calve from the northern front of the Wilkins Ice Shelf – indicating that the huge shelf has become unstable. This follows the collapse three weeks ago of the ice bridge that had previously linked the Antarctic mainland to Charcot Island.

The ice bridge, which effectively formed a barrier pinning back the northern ice front of the central Wilkins Ice Shelf, collapsed on 5 April removing about 330 sq km of ice. As a consequence of the collapse, the rifts, which had already featured along the northern ice front, widened and new cracks formed as the ice adjusted in the days that followed.

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Ethics Complaint Filed in Florida Space Tourism Case

More developments from Florida, courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel:

A man who filed an ethics complaint over Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp’s frequent use of state planes has lodged another one against the former staffer in Gov. Charlie Crist’s office who helped dole out $500,000 in state funds to a sports medicine clinic for a “space tourist” program, then left to take a $150,000 job running the program.

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Phobos: Interplanetary Moon of Mystery

Martian moon Phobos
Martian moon Phobos

Space.com takes a look at missions being planned for the Martian moon Phobos. Most of the story is about Russia’s massive Phobos-Grunt spacecraft, which is designed to return soil samples to Earth. That mission was set for launch later this year, but it will likely be delayed for two years.

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Lyles Withdraws Name for NASA Admin Job

Lyles takes name out of running for NASA’s top job
Dayton Daily News

Retired Air Force Gen. Lester L. Lyles said Wednesday, April 29, that the White House indicated he was the top candidate to become the next NASA administrator, but that he has taken his name out of consideration.

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X-51 Waverider Hopes to Bridge Airplane, Rocket Gap

X-51 Waverider
X-51 Waverider

Hypersonic ‘WaveRider’ poised for test flight
MSNBC

Hoping to bridge the gap between airplanes and rocketships, the U.S. military is preparing to test an experimental aircraft that can fly more than six times faster than the speed of sound on ordinary jet fuel.

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Aerojet Completes Testing on Orion Engine

Model of NASA's Orion spacecraft
Model of NASA's Orion spacecraft

PRESS RELEASE

Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, successfully completed the first series of vibration and altitude hot fire tests on NASA’s Orion crew module’s 160 lb. thrust mono-propellant rocket engine. The objective of the test program was to verify engine performance after the thruster was subjected to Orion vibration loads which produced energy levels that were two times higher than those previously qualified.

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