During MESSENGER’s approach to Mercury yesterday, the NAC acquired a high-resolution, 62-image mosaic of the sunlit crescent planet. Many of these images show portions of Mercury’s surface not previously seen by spacecraft, including the NAC image shown here. In this image, Mercury’s northern horizon cuts a crisp line against the blackness of space. The surface in the lower right corner of the image is near Mercury’s terminator, the line between the light dayside and dark night side of the planet. Looking toward the horizon, smooth plains extend for large distances, similar to volcanic plains seen nearby during MESSENGER’s second flyby of Mercury.Â (Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington)
The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is calling upon Congress and the Obama Administration to provide federal funding to the nation’s spaceports under an unfunded 1993 law:
Unlike airports, commercial spaceports currently have no opportunity to apply for federal matching dollars for infrastructure to support operations and protect public safety. In the 1993 NASA Authorization Act (Public Law No. 102-588), Congress authorized a new program to support commercial space transportation facilities, but no funding has been appropriated to date.
Mark Schoeberl, age 60, of Silver Spring, Maryland, a senior manager and scientist at NASAâ€™s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), pleaded guilty today to a felony conflict of interest charge in connection with his participation in NASA contracts given to his wifeâ€™s company, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.
A brief report from a site called City A.M. about a possible partnership between Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Bigelow Aerospace:
â€œIt is early days and no formal talks have happened yet, but we have an ambition of later taking people to space hotels in the second phase of Galacticâ€™s growth,â€ says Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn. â€œBigelow have a fantastic inflatable technology which may be the answer, not just in orbit, but also in future on the moonâ€¦â€
All this is some ways off. Virgin has to even flight test its suborbital SpaceShipTwo vehicle, much less produce a successor capable of reaching orbit. Bigelow has launched two sub-scale prototype space stations, but it is still awaiting an affordable transport to shuttle passengers to its planned full-scale Sundancer facility.
A Soyuz rocket carrying Canadian space tourist Guy Laliberte, Russian cosmonaut Maxim Suraev and American astronaut Jeffrey Williams lifted off at 1:14 p.m. local time on Wednesday. The crew is now in orbit aboard a Soyuz spacecraft headed for a Friday rendezvous with the International Space Station.
CALIFORNIA SPACE AUTHORITY PRESS RELEASE 25 September 2009
The California Space Authority (CSA) announced the 2009 California SpotBeam Award Winners today. The awards will be formally presented at the California SpotBeam Awards Dinner on Wednesday, November 18, 2009 at The Proud Bird Restaurant in Los Angeles, California.
PRESS RELEASE (Via RoskosmosÂ based on RAS Institute of Space Reseach press statement)
Russian LEND â€” Lunar Exploration Neutron Detector – installed on NASA`s LRO -Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter – was switched into active mode on Sept. 15, after LRO reached Lunar 50-km polar orbit, which is to be the operational orbit for the initial stage of the mission.
The JAXA website has a lengthy interview with astronaut Chiaki Mukai, who is manager of the agency’s Space Biomedical Research Office.Â She talks in depth about the current state of Japanese space medical research, how it will use the newly installed Kibo module aboard the International Space Station, and her nation’s aim to be the leader in the area of lunar frontier medicine. (more…)
Guy Laliberte announces confirmed participation of additional world-renowned celebrities and musicians in his Poetic Social Mission, as he prepares for the Expedition 21 launch. A 120-minute global event featuring musical performances by major international artists and the reading of a poetic tale by well-known celebrities, the Poetic Social Mission seeks to raise awareness through artistic illustration of the humanitarian struggles and solutions associated with water.
NORTHROP GRUMMAN FOUNDATION PROGRAM UPDATE September 24, 2009
The Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) Foundation launched 29 teachers into weightlessness today as part of the Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery Program. The goal: To inspire and prepare the next generation of scientists, mathematicians and engineers — critical areas where the U.S. has fallen behind globally.
The unequivocal and unexpected discovery of widespread water in the uppermost layer of the moon’s surface means a whole new set of challenges for engineers working on methods for future astronauts to extract lunar resources.
Aviation Week reports that NASA and China are exploring how to deepen ties on the space front:
As a former deputy NASA administrator and the head of Chinaâ€™s Manned Space Engineering Office held back-channel talks, human spaceflight officials here offered an unprecedented opportunity to examine the Tiangong-1 docking target and the next in its series of Shenzhou human spacecraft, as well as previously off-limits space facilities.