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NASA.
NASA is an agency of the United States Government, responsible for that nation's public space program.

NASA Ames Leads New Robotic Moon Missions

Nov 15, 2005 - NASA has announced that its Ames Research Center will manage the agency's new Robotic Lunar Exploration Program. Before humans set foot on the Moon again, a fleet of robots will map the lunar surface in tremendous detail. NASA Ames has already sent robots to the Moon; most recently the Lunar Prospector, which was launched on January 6, 1998. The spacecraft orbited the Moon, and found evidence of water ice at its poles.

No Winner at the Elevator Competition

Oct 26, 2005 - Eleven teams competed in two competitions over the weekend to test technologies for space elevators: beam-powered climbers and new ribbon materials. The climbers needed to scale a 61-metre (200 foot) ribbon within a time limit. Although one climber reached 12 metres (40 feet), it wasn't enough to win the $50,000 prize. In the ribbon competition, competitors needed to create a material that was 50% stronger than the house tether. One team came close, but it wasn't enough. Tougher challenges will be back next year with bigger prizes.

Robot Plane Can Find Thermals to Stay Aloft

Oct 6, 2005 - NASA engineers tested out a prototype unmanned sailplane this week at the Dryden Flight Research Center in California. This robotic aircraft is capable of detecting and using rising air thermals, similar to a glider or bird, to gain altitude. It launched from the ground, and navigated to a likely location for updrafts. Once it found a thermal, it turned off its engine and circled to stay within the updraft. NASA hopes to develop techniques for using thermals that could extend the range of unmanned aerial vehicles that often have very limited fuel.

New Details About Return to the Moon

Sep 19, 2005 - NASA has unveiled more details about its upcoming series of missions to return humans to the Moon as early as 2018. The new crew vehicle will look very similar to the old Apollo module but it will be three times larger, allowing four astronauts to travel to the Moon at a time. Each ship can be reused 10 times, and NASA hopes to get as many as 2 launches a year, with astronauts spending 4-7 days on the surface. Eventually, once a lunar outpost is built at the southern pole, astronauts will be able to live on the Moon for 6 months at a time.

Can You Make a Better Glove?

Jul 26, 2005 - NASA and Volanz Aerospace have announced the next Centennial Challenge prize: to build a better set of gloves for astronauts. Teams will compete for a $250,000 prize to build a pair of gloves which are strong, easy on astronaut hands, and provide better dexterity than the gloves NASA currently uses. The competition is scheduled for November 2006, where various teams will submit their glove designs to a series of tests.

Michael Griffin Takes the Helm at NASA

Apr 15, 2005 - Michael Griffin addressed NASA employees on Thursday, when he became the 11th Administrator for the space agency. In his address, Griffin said he would focus on getting the shuttles ready to return to flight, and continue to fulfill the Vision for Space Exploration, which sees astronauts returning to the Moon and eventually continuing on to Mars in the coming decades. Griffin was nominated by President Bush on March 14, and was confirmed by the Senate on April 13.

Dr. Mike Griffin Chosen to Lead NASA

Mar 14, 2005 - The US White House has announced the Dr. Mike Griffin will pick up the reins at NASA, filling the vacancy left by Sean O'Keefe. Griffin is currently the director of space at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), and is a supporter of the new Vision for Space Exploration. Once confirmed by the senate, Griffin will become the 11th Administrator for NASA.

NASA 2006 Budget Released

Feb 7, 2005 - The US White House released its 2006 budget today, which included $16.45 billion US for NASA. This is a 2.5% increase over the previous year, but it doesn't include any funds to save the Hubble Space Telescope. Only $75 million have been set aside for Hubble, which would only be enough to have a robot steer the aging observatory into a safe trajectory when it needs to be destroyed. The budget sets aside $9.6 billion for science, aeronautics and exploration, and $6.7 billion for the space shuttle and International Space Station.

NASA Administrator Set to Resign

Dec 13, 2004 - NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe is set to resign this week from the agency, after heading it up for three years. President Bush is considering five men to take over, with the former leader of the Pentagon Missile Defense Agency, Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, widely considered to be the top candidate. Other people being considered for the position are former Congressman Robert Walker and former shuttle astronauts Ron Sega, Charles Bolden and Robert Crippen. O'Keefe is said to be considering a new position as the chancellor of Louisiana State University.

X-43 Flight Delayed

Nov 16, 2004 - NASA has pushed back the launch of its X-43A because of instrument trouble used up most of their launch window on Monday. Although they were go for launch at the end of the window, launch controllers decided to push the launch back until Tuesday. If all goes well, the innovative "scramjet" prototype will detach from a flying B-52 aircraft, and then accelerate to Mach 10 - 10 times the speed of sound, or 11,300 kph (7,000 mph).

NASA's New Supercomputer is World's Fastest

Oct 27, 2004 - NASA unveiled its new supercomputer on Tuesday, which took the lead as the fasted computer in the world. Named "Columbia", to commemorate the space shuttle, the supercomputer is built up from 10,240 Itanium 2 processors, and is capable of 42.7 teraflops (trillion calculations per second). Columbia is so powerful that scientists used it to accurately predict the path of hurricanes five days in advance. Complex aircraft analysis that used to take years can now be performed in a single day. Amazingly, the computer was built and installed in only 120 days at NASA's Ames Research Center.

Spacecraft Designer Maxime Faget Passes Away

Oct 12, 2004 - Dr. Maxime Faget, one of the most prolific of NASA's spacecraft designers, passed away on Saturday at the age of 83. Faget contributed to designs to every single NASA spacecraft, from the Mercury capsule to the space shuttle. He started working with for the US space effort in 1946, when he joined the staff of the Langley Research Center as a research scientist. He was later selected as one of the original 35 designers for the Mercury project. Faget retired from NASA in 1981, and went on to work for a private space firm called Space Industries Inc.

Astronaut Gordon Cooper Dies

Oct 5, 2004 - Astronaut Gordon Cooper, who piloted missions in both the Mercury and Gemini programs, died on Monday at his home in Ventura, California; he was 77. Cooper was the youngest of the original 7 Mercury astronauts, and his mission on May 15, 1963 - the final one in the Mercury program - lasted more than 34 hours and 22 orbits. Cooper and Pete Conrad flew the third flight of the Gemini program in 1965, and stayed in space for 191 hours, establishing a new space endurance record.

NASA Pushes the Limits with New Awards

Sep 29, 2004 - NASA's Institute for Advanced Concepts has selected 12 proposals for further study as part of its goal of finding revolutionary ideas that could help the agency's plans for human space exploration. Proposals selected as part of Phase 1 will receive $75,000 for a six-month study. Those selected for Phase 2 will have two years and $400,000 to further develop their concept. Some of the Phase 1 winners include an infrared observatory on the Moon, lunar space elevators, electrostatic radiation shields and a plasma propulsion system.

SpaceShipOne's Engine Designer Working with NASA

Sep 21, 2004 - SpaceDev, the company that designed and built the hybrid rocket engine for Scaled Composite's SpaceShipOne, announced that they've entered discussions with NASA to design a low-cost suborbital spaceship. The SpaceDev Dream Chaser would take off vertically, and carry up to three people to an altitude of 160 km (100 miles). If everything goes well, the spacecraft would be built by 2008, and would demonstrate a set of launch and flight technologies. Further versions of the spacecraft would eventually be able to go into orbit and transfer crew to and from the International Space Station.

NASA Centres Could Be Damaged by Ivan

Sep 16, 2004 - Although Hurricane Ivan spared NASA's Kennedy Space Center, several of the agencies other facilities weren't so lucky. The Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans were much closer to the point where the enormous storm came ashore on the US Gulf Coast. Stennis is where the space shuttle's engines are tested, so they were secured for the storm; one was returned to its container, another was wrapped in plastic, and two development engines were secured on their test stands. Michoud is where the shuttle's external fuel tanks are manufactured and assembled; these were secured, and assembly equipment was moved inside. NASA will get an idea of the damage later today or tomorrow, when its employees begin returning to work.

Cleaning Up Kennedy Space Center After Frances

Sep 8, 2004 - NASA workers are continuing to assess the damage that Hurricane Frances wreaked on the Kennedy Space Center when it tore through Cape Canaveral over the weekend. Many buildings suffered wind and rain damage, including the Vehicle Assembly Building, where the space shuttles are attached to the external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters - it had 820 panels blown off. The Thermal Protection System Facility, where heat tiles and blankets are manufactured suffered significant damage. It's still unknown if the effects of the hurricane will push back the shuttle's return to flight.

NASA Assesses the Damage From Frances

Sep 7, 2004 - It's bad, but it could have been much worse. Hurricane Frances devastated Florida over the weekend, with the eye sweeping close to NASA's Kennedy Space Center - the region sustained winds as high as 110 kph (70 mph). There were no injuries, and the worst damage was to the Vehicle Assembly Building, which lost more than 1,000 panels, leaving huge holes in its sides. None of the space shuttles or the Swift mission were damaged. The center is closed Tuesday for most employees, and a more detailed damage assessment should be released later today.

Final Helios Report Released

Sep 4, 2004 - The board inquiring into the loss of the remotely-operated Helios aircraft released its final report on Friday. Helios was a solar-powered aircraft, capable of flying higher than any conventional plane. During a test flight in June, 2003, the aircraft took off from the island of Kauai and flew out over the Pacific Ocean. About 30 minutes into its flight, turbulence caused Helios to become unstable, with its wings bending more than it was designed for. Shortly after that, the upper surface of the wing ripped off, and it plunged into the ocean. The board determined that NASA lacked the analysis tools to predict how turbulence could affect the plane in all conditions.

Contractors Selected for New Space Vision

Sep 2, 2004 - NASA has awarded the first contracts for aerospace firms to begin preliminary concept studies for returning humans to the Moon, and then onto Mars. A total of $27 million USD was awarded to eleven companies to work on concepts for human lunar exploration and the crew exploration vehicle; there is also an option for an additional $27 million. The contracts will give the companies six months to work on their ideas, and then the additional six-month options may be exercised depending on the quality of the work.

See also NASA.

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