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+ - Newt Gingrich calls for doubling federal medical research at NIH-> 1

Submitted by MarkWhittington
MarkWhittington writes: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich published an oped in the New York Times calling for the doubling of the National Institutes for Health, currently at $31 billion. The idea, coming from Gingrich, is not as crazy as it may sound at first glance. Gingrich helped to start the ball rolling the last time the NIH budget was doubled, starting in the late 1990s. Gingrich has also been an advocate of science research as a means of benefiting the country.

Gingrich presents his case as a means of real health care reform, not from layering on more bureaucracy, but in finding cures and treatments for diseases.

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+ - European Space Agency invited to contribute a lander to NASA's Europa Clipper->

Submitted by MarkWhittington
MarkWhittington writes: According to a Friday story in Spaceflight Now, NASA has invited the European Space Agency to participate in its upcoming Europa Clipper project. Europa Clipper, pushed by Rep. John Culberson, the chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees NASA, recently received backing from the Obama administration. Europa Clipper would launch in the early 2020s and would be placed in an orbit around Jupiter that would cause it to fly by Europa, a moon of Jupiter, at least 45 times during its operational life.
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+ - Idea floated to send the Asteroid Redirect Mission to Phobos->

Submitted by MarkWhittington
MarkWhittington writes: At a meeting of the NASA Advisory Council, the subject of the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) came up. According to both NASA Watch’s Keith Cowing and the Houston Chronicle’s Eric Berger, an idea was floated to send the ARM to Phobos, a moon of Mars, instead of an asteroid to be named later. The idea is that the ARM mission would travel all the way to Mars orbit, using a solar electric propulsion system, and then collect a boulder from Phobos and return it to a retrograde lunar orbit.
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+ - Report: NASA may be headed back to the moon after all->

Submitted by MarkWhittington
MarkWhittington writes: According to a Friday story by the Houston Chronicle’s Eric Berger, NASA is quietly started to consider plans to return American astronauts to the moon in advance of a Mars landing in the 2030s. While a return to the moon flies in the face of President Obama’s firm directive that Earth’s nearest neighbor should be bypassed, it would likely have the support of the scientific and commercial space communities, the Congress, and NASA’s international partners. Likely such an effort would only go into high gear once Obama leaves office.
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+ - Planetary Society pushes for Mars orbital mission before NASA landing->

Submitted by MarkWhittington
MarkWhittington writes: The Planetary Society announced Thursday the results of the “Humans Orbiting Mars” workshop that brought in a number of space experts to develop helpful suggestions for how NASA can fulfill its mandate to send humans to Mars in the 2030s and return them safely to the Earth. The plans is to send a mission to orbit Mars in 2033 in advance of the landing mission in the late 2030s. The workshop believes that this could be done for a NASA budget that increases about two percent a year after the International Space Station is decommissioned in 2024.
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+ - Lunar IceCube to examine water on the moon with NASA grant->

Submitted by MarkWhittington
MarkWhittington writes: One of the 12 technology development projects selected by NASA as part of the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) is called Lunar IceCube, according to a Wednesday announcement by Morehead State University, the recipient of the grant. MSU was given $7.9 million to develop a cubesat to explore for water ice on the moon, the presence of which has been indicated by a number of other space probes over the past two decades. Lunar ice would change the economics of lunar exploration and settlement in profound ways.
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+ - NASA's ARM will take a boulder from an asteroid and take it to lunar orbit->

Submitted by MarkWhittington
MarkWhittington writes: NASA announced more details of its controversial asteroid redirect mission. The space agency has chosen to not snag an asteroid in deep space and move it to a retrograde orbit around the moon. Instead, an uncrewed spacecraft with a solar electric propulsion system will snag a boulder off of a larger asteroid and bring it to lunar orbit for an Orion spacecraft to visit.
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+ - Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser could land at Ellington Space Port near Houston->

Submitted by MarkWhittington
MarkWhittington writes: Despite having been rejected in NASA’s commercial crew program, Sierra Nevada has been very busy trying to develop its lift body spacecraft, the Dream Chaser. Having rolled out a smaller, cargo version of the spacecraft for the second round for contracts for commercial cargo to the International Space Station, the company has amended the unfunded Space Act Agreement with NASA to add a closeout review milestone that would help transition the Dream Chaser from the preliminary design review to the critical design review step. Finally, Sierra Nevada announced a new agreement on Tuesday with the Houston Airport System to use Ellington Spaceport as a landing site for the cargo version of the Dream Chaser.
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+ - Culberson charges NASA with the 'development of the first interstellar rocket'->

Submitted by MarkWhittington
MarkWhittington writes: Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, the chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee that determines NASA funding, has been the driving force behind a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa. However, according to a story in Space Policy Online, the congressman has an even greater challenge for the space agency. During a hearing on the FY 2016 NASA budget request, Culberson charged NASA Administrator Charles Bolden to further “the development of the first interstellar rocket propulsion system that would carry us to Alpha Centauri and beyond.” Culberson is very keen to start the exploration of exoplanets that have been discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope. Considering NASA's experiments in warp drive and the em drive, there may be some method to the congressman's madness.
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+ - Pat Robertson attacks NASA Mars exploration, says God did not create aliens->

Submitted by MarkWhittington
MarkWhittington writes: According to a story in Salon, Pat Robertson, a televangelist and former presidential candidate, took to the airwaves on his “700 Club” and choose to inveigh against NASA in general and the exploration of Mars in specific. He seems to have it on good authority that God would not choose to create life on any other world but the Earth. His supposition is in the distinct minority among mainstream theologians though perhaps not of fundamentalist Christians like Robertson
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+ - Houston researchers using nanoparticles to speed blood clot busting->

Submitted by MarkWhittington
MarkWhittington writes: When a person is brought into the emergency room, having suffered a heart attack or stroke, one of the first things the trauma team will do is to administer clot busting drugs. The idea is that in cases where a clot has caused the trauma, blood flow has to be reestablished as quickly as possible to minimize the damage. Minutes and even seconds count between the patient having a speedy recovery or else spending months in rehab and possibly having permanent impairment. Gizmag reported that some new research being conducted at Houston Methodist Research Institute has the potential to speed up the blood clot busting, helping stroke and heart attack patients to recover faster.
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+ - Not much new happened at Ted Cruz's first NASA space hearing->

Submitted by MarkWhittington
MarkWhittington writes: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas conducted his first hearing as chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness on Tuesday. He and several other senators, including ranking Commerce Committee member Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, questioned two panels of witnesses on a variety of space topics, ranging from sending humans to Mars to how best to enable commercial space operations going forward.

The first panel consisted of three former astronauts, Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, Apollo 7 astronaut Walt Cunningham, and shuttle astronaut and occasional guest on “The Big Bang Theory” Michael Massimino. The second panel consisted of John Elbon, Vice President and General Manager, Boeing Space Exploration, Scott Pace, Director, Space Policy Institute, Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University, and Mr. Eric Stallmer, President, Commercial Spaceflight Federation.

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+ - Astrobotic and HAKUTO to share a ride to the moon for the Google Lunar XPrize->

Submitted by MarkWhittington
MarkWhittington writes: The Google Lunar XPrize announced that two competitors for the $20 million purse for the first private group to land a rover on the lunar surface and do a number of predetermined tasks have teamed up to share a ride to the moon. Astrobotic, a group in Pittsburgh, PA, and HAKUTO, a Japanese team, will use the same Falcon 9 launch vehicle to deliver their rovers to the lunar surface. At that point, it will be a race to see which rover will travel 500 meters and return high definition images and video.
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+ - Saudi cleric states the Earth is the center of the universe and does not move->

Submitted by MarkWhittington
MarkWhittington writes: In the West, scientists often lament the disconnect between public perception vs. scientific truth on a variety of issues, ranging from evolution to vaccinations, according to a recent poll cited by National Geographic. That problem is nothing compared to what exists in the Islamic world. A case in point was explored by a story in Al Arabiya about a Saudi cleric who denied the concept of a sun-centered solar system.
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+ - Could fossils of ancient life from Earth reside on the Moon?->

Submitted by MarkWhittington
MarkWhittington writes: Does the moon contain fossils of billions of years old organisms from Earth? That theory has been laid out in recent research at the Imperial College of London, reported in a story in Air and Space Magazine by Dr. Paul Spudis, a lunar and planetary geologist. The implications for science and future lunar exploration are profound.
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