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Submission + - Iran Tried and Failed to Launch a Monkey Into Spac (

Medevilae writes: This morning, PopSci’s dedicated “space monkey” news feed lit up with some distressing news: When Iran indefinitely suspended its plans to launch a monkey into space earlier this month, it was actually because they had already tried and failed. Iranian Deputy Science Minister Mohammad Mehdinejad-Nouri told state media that the Kavoshgar-5 rocket carrying a capsule with a live monkey launched during Shahrivar, which is the Iranian month spanning August 23 to September 22, but the launch was not publicized because it did not accomplish all of its mission objectives. Assuming one of the objectives was to safely carry the monkey to space and back, things don’t sound good for the monkey.

Submission + - Inventor of E-Books Obituary (

zxr250cc writes: "I am sad to note that the inventor of e-books has passed away in Illinois. As an avid fan of Project Gutenberg I will miss his efforts on all our behalf. We are surely in his debt and have benefited from his visionary work."

Submission + - China Poised to Launch Test for First Space Statio (

Medevilae writes: China, a burgeoning power in the world space community, is poised to launch a test module for its first space station. The question is, when?

The liftoff was initially expected to take place in the fall. However, the Aug. 19 failure of an unmanned Chinese satellite to enter orbit has delayed the rollout of the module, named Tiangong-1 ("Heavenly Palace" in Chinese).

The space station precursor module is slated to launch on a Chinese Long March 2F rocket, similar to the Long March 2C booster that doomed the experimental SJ-11-04 satellite in August. Chinese space officials have put a hold on the Tiangong launch until the issue with the rocket is resolved.

China is developing its first full-fledged space station, called Tiangong (Heavenly Palace). Early tests of China’s skills at rendezvous and docking, shown in this artist's illustration, are set to begin in 2011.

When China does succeed in launching Tiangong-1, it will mark the first in a series of steps toward the nation's goal of building its own 60-ton space station by the year 2020. An unmanned Shenzhou 8 spacecraft would launch a couple of months after Tiangong-1 and dock with it, in a demonstration of the autonomous docking technology necessary for assembling the station.

"The ability to do that robotically is going to certainly be a technological step forward for them," said Joan Johnson-Freese, chairwoman of the Department of National Security Studies at the Naval War College in Newport, R. I. "Some people have compared this to where we were at with Gemini. But we were doing it with people. If they can do it with robotics, it's a demonstration of a technological step forward."

China launched one astronaut on its first manned spacecraft, Shenzhou 5, in 2003. Since then it has sent five more men into space and performed the nation's first spacewalk.

Though these achievements come decades after the United States and Russia performed the same feats, they are enough to make China a force to be reckoned with in the future of human spaceflight, experts say.

"They have clearly established themselves in the top tier of spacefaring countries," Johnson-Freese told "There are only three countries in the world who have the ability for human spaceflight, and China's one of them. If it were easy, there would be more countries that would have done it."


Submission + - US fires up gigabit app dev. for ultrafast nets (

coondoggie writes: "The US government and the National Science Foundation have announced a plan they say will go a long way toward building applications that can take advantage of ultrafast broadband networks. Dubbed US Ignite, the plan is to use existing high-speed fiber optic and wireless networks, such as the NSF's GENI network to link universities and a growing number of communities with networks that are 10-100 times faster than current residential broadband Internet services, according to as post on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy site."

Submission + - HP to Resurrect Touchpad for "One Last Run" (

Medevilae writes: HP slashed the price of its tablet to $99 from $399 and $499 the weekend after announcing the TouchPad's demise on August 18, part of a raft of decisions intended to move HP away from the consumer and focus on enterprise clientele.

That ignited an online frenzy and long lines at retailers as bargain-hunters chased down a gadget that had been on store shelves just six weeks.

"The speed at which it disappeared from inventory has been stunning," the company said. "We have decided to produce one last run of TouchPads to meet unfulfilled demand."


Submission + - NASA Powers on Humanoid Robot For the First Time (

Medevilae writes: Robonaut 2, or R2, tweeted the progress of its first test from the @AstroRobonaut feed, operated by NASA’s Joe Bibby, a multimedia specialist working out of Houston’s Johnson Space Center, where R2's ground support is located.
“My power cable is plugged in and my status LEDs on my power backpack are on,” Robonaut tweeted Monday morning.
The robot continued to post various updates about the status of the two-hour test as it was hooked up by two mission specialists in the Destiny module of the ISS and received power from the ground.
“Ground team in Houston has successfully connected with me through my graphical user interface,” it later said.
The $2.5 million bot is the first robot to be launched into space, and it was built through a partnership between NASA and General Motors to work as a helper for the space station’s six-person crew. With a head, a torso, and a pair of arms and hands, the robot looks similar to a human astronaut, but it lacks legs and feet. NASA said on R2’s Web site that it could get these extra appendages added in 2013. It will also be several weeks before it begins to move its head around, as its operators run initial tests, said.


Submission + - SPAM: First, Functional, Anal Sphincters Made in Lab 1

Medevilae writes: Researchers have built the first functional anal sphincters in the laboratory, suggesting a potential future treatment for both fecal and urinary incontinence. Made from muscle and nerve cells, the sphincters developed a blood supply and maintained function when implanted in mice. The results are reported in the medical journal Gastroenterology.

“In essence, we have built a replacement sphincter that we hope can one day benefit human patients. This is the first bioengineered sphincter made with both muscle and nerve cells, making it ‘pre-wired’ for placement in the body,” said senior author Khalil N. Bitar, Ph.D., a professor of regenerative medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Bitar performed the work when he was on the University of Michigan faculty and it included a colleague from Emory University.

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