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Submission + - China preparing to send crewed Shenzhou 11 to Tiangong 2 space station in 2016->

MarkWhittington writes: China has not sent people into space since the mission of the Shenzhou 10 to the prototype space station Tiangong 1 in June 2013. Since then the Chinese have accomplished the landing of the Chang’e 3 on the lunar surface. According to a story in Space Daily, the hiatus in Chinese crewed spaceflight is about to end with the launch of the Tiangong-2 prototype space station in 2016 with the subsequent visit by a crew of Chinese astronauts on board the Shenzhou 11. The mission will be a prelude to the construction of a larger Chinese space station, slated to be completed by 2022.
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Submission + - Curt Granderson, big league ball player, big time moon landing conspiracy nut->

MarkWhittington writes: The Detroit Free Press noted that former Detroit Tiger and current New York Mets ballplayer Curtis Granderson is not only handy fielding pop fly balls, but he is also a moon landing conspiracy theorist. Ordinarily, the opinions of any baseball player on subjects unrelated to the prospects of his team making the World Series wouldn’t matter a hill of beans. But, Granderson got to the idea that man never landed on the moon by a particularly creative chain of logic that needs addressing. He believes that we never went to the moon because we have never been back since 1972.

The problem, of course, is not lack of technical ability, of which there is in abundance, but lack of political will.

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Submission + - British idea for a suborbital flight might have started a space program in 195-> 1

MarkWhittington writes: The BBC reported on a hitherto little-known proposal in the early 1950s to use a modified V2 rocket to put a Briton into space in a suborbital flight similar to that taken by American astronauts Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom a decade later, The thing could have been done technically. Unfortunately, Great Britain’s economy was all but ruined by the Second World War. What government funding that was available was being used for aviation and nuclear technology development. Britain was also in the process of creating a welfare state, which left little for a space program.
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Submission + - NASA mulls missions to Uranus and Neptune, using the Space Launch System->

MarkWhittington writes: According to a story in Astronomy Magazine, NASA is contemplating sending flagship sized space probes to the so-called “ice giants” of Uranus and Neptune. These would be probes that would orbit the two outer planets, similar to how Galileo orbited Jupiter and how Cassini currently orbits Saturn. The only time previously NASA has had a close encounter with either of these worlds was when Voyager 2 flew by Uranus in 1986 and then Neptune in 1989. Each of these missions would happen after the Europa Clipper, a flagship-class mission scheduled for the mid-2020s
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Submission + - As calls for funding NASA commercial crew grow, Richard Shelby is the man to buy->

MarkWhittington writes: As summer starts to give way to fall and the end of the current fiscal year draws nigh, demands that NASA’s commercial crew program be fully funded are being heard with greater frequency and urgency. Astronaut Scott Kelly took time off from his year-long sojourn on the International Space Station to entreat Congress to pony up. IO9 was a little more caustic, stating “Dammit, Congress: Just Buy NASA its Own Space Taxi, Already.” Monday, Slate became the latest media outlet to take up the cause

The situation is depressingly familiar to those who have followed the fortunes of the space program since the Apollo moon landings. When President Obama started the commercial crew program in 2010, NASA estimated that it would take a certain amount of money to get government funded and commercially operated spacecraft running by 2015. Then the space agency would no longer be dependent on Russia for rides to the International Space Station.

Congress has decided to allocate less money than NASA feels it needed for commercial crew. This situation is not unusual, as Congress often does this to space projects. However, the politics surrounding the creation of the commercial crew program, which featured the abrupt cancelation of the Constellation space exploration program, has exacerbated the conflict between NASA’s will and Congress’ won’t. President Obama did not consult Congress when he cancelled President Bush’s return to the moon program. Congress has displeased ever since..

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Submission + - Former Rep. Louis Stokes, the man who saved the space station, dies at age 90->

MarkWhittington writes: The Associated Press noted the passing of former Rep. Louis Stokes at the age of 90. Since Stokes was an African American Democrat first elected in 1968, most of the accolades touch on his effect on the civil rights struggle and his lifelong fight against racism. However, as George Abbey, former NASA Director of the Johnson Spaceflight Center and current Fellow in Space Policy at the Baker Institute of Rice University pointed out on his Facebook Page, Stokes can be rightly be said to be the man who saved the International Space Station and perhaps human space flight in America.
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Submission + - 'Explore Mars' urges political push to coincide with 'The Martian' film->

MarkWhittington writes: The Ridley Scott directed film version of the bestseller book The Martian, starring Matt Damon as an astronaut stranded on Mars, draws nigh to a release date in early October. An organization called Explore Mars is calling on space advocates to capitalize on the widely anticipated movie, an article in The Space Review suggests. However, the call to political action to support NASA’s humans to Mars program is meeting with some skepticism in certain quarters.
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Submission + - Donald Trump thinks going to Mars would be 'wonderful' but there is a catch->

MarkWhittington writes: Donald Trump, the mercurial real estate tycoon and media personality who, much to the surprise of one and all, has become the front-runner for the Republican nomination for president opened his mind just a little about his attitude toward space exploration, according to a story in Forbes. In an answer to a question put to him about sending humans to Mars, the current focus at NASA, Trump said, ““Honestly, I think it’s wonderful; I want to rebuild our infrastructure first, ok? I think it’s wonderful.” In other words, dreams of going to Mars must take a back seat to more Earthly concerns. It is not an answer many space exploration supporters want to hear.
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Submission + - Would Bernie Sanders gut NASA spending if he became president? Probably->

MarkWhittington writes: With Sen. Bernie Sanders, the independent socialist from Vermont, packing in huge crowds during his early August west coast swing, the idea that he might have a shot at the Democratic nomination has gone from the realm of fantasy to that of distinct possibility. This fact is especially true since the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, continues to slip in the polls and faces numerous ethical and legal woes.

Sanders’ surge means that interest is merited about his views on particular issues. One case in point is his attitude toward the space program and NASA spending. The answer is not very encouraging for those people who value space exploration.

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Submission + - Houston firm NanoRacks to take Chinese experiment to International Space Station->

MarkWhittington writes: The Houston Chronicle’s Eric Berger reported on that for the first time a Chinese experiment will fly on the International Space Station, thanks to an arrangement between a research group based at the Beijing Institute of Technology and a private firm in Houston called NanoRacks. The deal seems to have been designed to avoid the prohibition against space cooperation between the Chinese regime and NASA, since the space agency is not directly involved. The experiment, which involves the effects that space radiation has on DNA, will be carried to the ISS by another private firm, SpaceX. Presumably the experiment would be run by a non NASA crew member to avoid any direct involvement with the space agency.
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Submission + - How three enterprising Chechen ladies took ISIS for $3,300->

MarkWhittington writes: Yahoo Travel reported that three women in Chechnya took ISIS for $3,300 before getting caught. They are now under investigation for Internet fraud, which seems to be illegal even when committed against the most fearsome terrorist army in modern times. The scam seems to be a combination of the Nigerian Prince con, in which a mark is fooled into giving the con artist large sums of money and catfishing, in which the mark strikes up an online romance with someone he thinks is an attractive woman (or man depending on the gender and preference of the mark.)
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Submission + - Upcoming Mars movie to be heavy on teenage angst, light on science->

MarkWhittington writes: Aintitcool reported that Ender’s Game’s Asa Butterfield and Tomorrowland's Britt Robertson are set to star in a movie about the first boy to be born on Mars and the first interplanetary romance. The movie, which has yet to have a name, will be directed by Peter Chelsom, most famous for having helmed Hannah Montana: The Movie. The unnamed movie is just the latest of what seems to be a series of films set on a future Mars, the most famous one being Ridley Scott’s production of The Martian, based on the Andy Weir bestseller. Unfortunately, unlike the Scott movie, the Chelson project does not seem to be overly burdened by science.
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Submission + - National Geographic Channel to air Ron Howard produced series 'The Red Planet'->

MarkWhittington writes: Proof positive that Marsmania is about to strike comes with the announcement that the National Geographic Channel is to broadcast a miniseries called “Red Planet” in 171 countries and 44 languages in 2016. The miniseries will be produced by Imagine Entertainment, with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, along with Radical Media. The show will depict the colonization of Mars from a unique perspective, mixing interviews and documentary footage from the present day with a dramatization set in the year 2032. Howard and Imagine Entertainment have been involved in such space related projects as the smash hit movie "Apollo 13" and the HBO miniseries "From the Earth to the Moon."
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Submission + - German scientists confirm NASA results of propellantless 'impossible' EM drive->

MarkWhittington writes: Hacked Magazine reported that a group of German scientists believe that they have confirmed that the EM Drive, the propulsion device that uses microwaves rather than rocket fuel, provides thrust. The experimental results are being presented at the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics' Propulsion and Energy Forum in Orlando by Martin Tajmar, a professor and chair for Space Systems at the Dresden University of Technology. Tajmar has an interest in exotic propulsion methods, including one concept using “negative matter.”
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Submission + - A lunar geologist gives a reality check for NASA funded return to the moon study->

MarkWhittington writes: The study that suggested that American astronauts could return to the moon by 2021 for $10 billion has caused rare excitement in the media though perhaps a little bemusement as well. Officially, due to a presidential mandate, NASA has eschewed a return to the moon. Of course, presidencies and thus space policy mandates change. In any event, Paul Spudis, a lunar geologist who frequently writes about space policy and is an advocate of a return to the moon, provided a reality check for the proposal.

One the one hand. Dr. Spudis noted with approval the plan’s emphasis on the mining of lunar water and its refining into rocket fuel. He has helped develop a plan to do just that, which the NASA-funded proposal seems to have borrowed heavily from.

However, Spudis has some objections to the plan.

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