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Submission + - NASA picks 5 firms for private launch to LEO (space.com) 1

Gary W. Longsine writes: Five contracts have been awarded by NASA today, to firms exploring different aspects of the effort to develop a private launch industry for people to low earth orbit. Today's winners include:

Will the forecast $6 Billion allocation over five years be enough to inspire private industry to develop not one, but two human rated launch systems (a capsule, and the lifting body Dream Chaser)? NASA clearly wants competition in the private market, so they seek more than one vendor. Will the losers in this competition be able to survive today's announcement, which makes them "distant third" candidates to provide these services?


Woz Cites "Scary" Prius Acceleration Software Problem 749

theodp writes "Speaking at Discovery Forum 2010, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak went off topic and spoke about a 'very scary' problem with his 2010 Toyota Prius. 'I don't get upset and teed off at things in life, except computers that don't work right,' said Woz, who went on to explain he'd been trying to get through to Toyota and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration for three months, but could not get anyone to explore an alleged software-related acceleration problem. 'I have a new model that didn't get recalled,' Steve said. 'This new model has an accelerator that goes wild but only under certain conditions of cruise control. And I can repeat it over and over and over again — safely.' Toyota said it investigates all complaints. 'We're in the business of investigating complaints, assessing problems and finding remedies,' said Toyota's John Hanson. 'After man-years of exhaustive testing we have not found any evidence of an electronic [software] problem that would have led to unwanted acceleration.'" We recently discussed other problems Toyota has had with electronic acceleration systems.

Father of Green Revolution, Norman Borlaug, Dies at 95 227

countincognito writes "Norman Borlaug, a genuinely remarkable man and the father of the Green Revolution in agriculture, has died of cancer at his Dallas home aged 95. His life's work on developing high-yield, disease-resistant crops has been credited with having saved an estimated one billion people from famine, and one billion hectares of forest and rainforest from being cleared for agricultural production."

Pascal is a language for children wanting to be naughty. -- Dr. Kasi Ananthanarayanan