Sen. Mikulski Unveils First Images from Rejuvenated Hubble

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WASHINGTON — Astronomers declared NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope a
fully rejuvenated observatory with the release Wednesday of
observations from four of its six operating science instruments. Sen.
Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., unveiled the images at NASA Headquarters
in Washington.

Topping the list of new views are colorful, multi-wavelength pictures
of far-flung galaxies, a densely packed star cluster, an eerie
“pillar of creation,” and a “butterfly” nebula. Hubble’s suite of new
instruments allows it to study the universe across a wide swath of
the light spectrum, from ultraviolet all the way to near-infrared. In
addition, scientists released spectroscopic observations that slice
across billions of light-years to probe the cosmic-web structure of
the universe and map the distribution of elements that are
fundamental to life as we know it.

“This marks a new beginning for Hubble,” said Ed Weiler, associate
administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA
Headquarters in Washington. “The telescope was given an extreme
makeover and now is significantly more powerful than ever,
well-equipped to last into the next decade.”

“I fought for the Hubble repair mission because Hubble is the people’s
telescope,” said Mikulski, chairwoman of the Commerce, Justice and
Science Appropriations Subcommittee that funds NASA. “I also fought
for Hubble because it constantly rewrites the science textbooks. It
has more discoveries than any other science mission. Hubble is our
greatest example of our astronauts working together with scientists
to show American leadership and ingenuity. I want to salute Team
Hubble — everyone who worked on Hubble from the Goddard Space Flight
Center and Space Telescope Science Institute scientists in Maryland,
to the ground crew at the Kennedy Space Center, to the Johnson Space
Center where the astronauts train, and to the astronauts who were
heroes in space.”

The new instruments are more sensitive to light and, therefore, will
improve Hubble’s observing efficiency significantly. It is able to
complete observations in a fraction of the time that was needed with
prior generations of Hubble instruments. The space observatory today
is significantly more powerful than it ever has been.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled with the quality of the images from the
new Wide Field Camera 3 and repaired Advanced Camera for Surveys, and
the spectra from the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph and the Space
Telescope Imaging Spectrograph,” said Keith Noll, leader of a team at
the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which planned the
early release observations. “The targets we’ve selected to showcase
the telescope reveal the great range of capabilities in our newly
upgraded Hubble.”

These results are compelling evidence of the success of the STS-125
servicing mission in May, which has brought the space observatory to
the apex of its scientific performance. Two new instruments, the Wide
Field Camera 3 and Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, were installed, and
two others, the Advanced Camera for Surveys and Space Telescope
Imaging Spectrograph, were repaired at the circuit board level.
Mission scientists also announced Wednesday that the Near Infrared
Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer was brought back into operation
during the three months of calibration and testing.

“On this mission we wanted to replenish the ‘tool kit’ of Hubble
instruments on which scientists around the world rely to carry out
their cutting-edge research,” said David Leckrone, senior project
scientist for Hubble at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in
Greenbelt, Md. “Prior to this servicing mission, we had only three
unique instrument channels still working, and today we have 13. I’m
very proud to be able to say, ‘mission accomplished.’ ”

For the past three months, scientists and engineers at the Space
Telescope Science Institute and Goddard have been focusing, testing,
and calibrating the instruments. Hubble is one of the most complex
space telescopes ever launched, and the Hubble servicing mission
astronauts performed major surgery on the 19-year-old observatory’s
multiple systems. This orbital verification phase was interrupted
briefly July 19 to observe Jupiter in the aftermath of a collision
with a suspected comet.

Hubble now enters a phase of full science observations. The demand for
observing time will be intense. Observations will range from studying
the population of Kuiper Belt objects at the fringe of our solar
system to surveying the birth of planets around other stars and
probing the composition and structure of extrasolar planet
atmospheres. There are ambitious plans to take the deepest-ever
near-infrared portrait of the universe to reveal never-before-seen
infant galaxies that existed when the universe was less than 500
million years old. Other planned observations will attempt to shed
light on the behavior of dark energy, a repulsive force that is
pushing the universe apart at an ever-faster rate.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation
between NASA and the European Space Agency. Goddard manages the
telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute conducts Hubble
science operations. The institute is operated for NASA by the
Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy Inc. in
Washington, and is an International Year of Astronomy 2009 program
partner.

For images and more information about the Hubble Space Telescope,
visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/hubble


NASA Awards Helium Contract

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA has selected five companies to provide
liquid and gaseous helium for 17 agency locations, including centers
and facilities.

This new fixed-price requirements contract with economic price
adjustment is for the acquisition of approximately 12.5 million
liters of liquid helium and 235.7 million standard cubic feet of
gaseous helium during a five-year period of performance starting Oct.
1. It has a maximum potential value of approximately $56.5 million.
The awardees are:

Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. of Allentown, Pa., has been awarded
about $18.7 million of the base contract plus options.

Linde LLC of Murray Hill, N.J., has been awarded $80,000 of the base
contract plus options.

Matheson Tri-Gas, Inc., of Basking Ridge, N.J., has been awarded $3.8
million of the base contract plus options.

Praxair Distribution Inc. of Austin, Texas, has been awarded $553,000
of the base contract plus options.

Praxair Inc. of Danbury, Conn., has been awarded $33.4 million of the
base contract plus options.

NASA uses helium as a cryogenic agent for cooling various materials,
precision welding applications, lab use, as an inert purge gas for
hydrogen systems, and as a pressurizing agent for the space shuttle’s
ground and flight fluid systems.

The total period of performance for all awards is five years, with a
three-year base period plus two one-year options. The base contract
period ends Sept. 30, 2012. Option 1 would extend the contract is
from Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 30, 2013. Option 2 would extend the
contract from Oct. 1, 2013, to Sept. 30, 2014.

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for the
acquisition of helium on behalf of the agency.

For information about NASA and agency programs, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov


Space Shuttle Discovery Crew Set to Return to Earth Thursday

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Space shuttle Discovery and its seven-member
crew are expected to return to Earth Thursday after a 13-day mission.
Two landing opportunities at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida
are available at 7:05 p.m. and 8:42 p.m. EDT.

NASA will evaluate weather conditions at Kennedy before permitting
Discovery and its crew to land. If bad weather prevents a return on
Thursday, both Kennedy and the backup landing site at Edwards Air
Force Base in California will be activated for consideration on
Friday. For recorded updates about landing, call 321-867-2525.

Approximately two hours after landing, NASA officials will hold a
briefing to discuss the mission. The participants will be:
– Mike Moses, space shuttle launch integration manager
– Simonetta Di Pippo, European Space Agency’s director of human
spaceflight
– Pete Nickolenko, STS-128 launch director

After touchdown in Florida, the astronauts will undergo physical
examinations and meet with their families. They are expected to make
brief remarks at the runway. The news events will be broadcast live
on NASA Television and the agency’s Web site.

The Kennedy news center will open for landing activities at 8 a.m.
Thursday and close at 10 p.m. or one hour after the last media event.

The STS-128 media badges are in effect through landing. The media
accreditation building on State Road 3 will be open Thursday from 3
p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The last bus will depart from the news center for
the Shuttle Landing Facility one hour before landing.

If the landing is diverted to Edwards, news media should call the
Dryden public affairs office at 661-276-3449. Dryden has limited
facilities available for previously accredited journalists.

The NASA News Twitter feed is updated throughout the shuttle mission
and landing. To access the feed, visit:

http://www.twitter.com/nasa

For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming
video, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

For the latest information about the STS-128 mission and
accomplishments, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle


NASA Selects Target Crater for Lunar Impact of LCROSS Spacecraft

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MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. — NASA has identified the spot where it will
search for water on the moon. Reporters are invited to attend the
announcement of the target location where the Lunar Crater
Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, and its spent Centaur
rocket will hit in October. The briefing will take place at 10 a.m.
PDT, Friday, Sept. 11, in the main auditorium, Building N201, of
NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. The event will
be broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency’s Web site.

The selected crater is an optimal target for evaluating if water ice
exists at the lunar south pole. Briefing participants are Daniel
Andrews, LCROSS project manager, Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS principal
investigator, and Jennifer Heldmann, lead for the LCROSS observation
campaign.

Andrews will provide an update about the health of the spacecraft and
mission activities. Colaprete will announce the target crater and
explain the criteria and selection process. Heldmann will discuss the
LCROSS observation campaign in which an international cadre of
professional and amateur astronomers will view the impacts at 4:30
a.m. on Oct. 9.

To reach Ames, take U.S. Highway 101 to the Moffett Field/NASA Parkway
exit and drive east on Moffett Field Boulevard toward the main gate.
News media will be escorted from the visitor badge office parking lot
to the main auditorium at 9:45 a.m. Journalists seeking telephone
access should contact Jonas Dino at 650-604-5612 or
jonas.dino@nasa.gov.

For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and scheduling information,
visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

For more information about the LCROSS mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/lcross


U.K. Advised To Cap Airline Emissions

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Robert Wall wall@aviationweek.com

An independent body advising the U.K. government on environmental issues has come out in favor of capping aviation emissions as part of the pending United Nations climate change talks due to unfold in Copenhagen in December….

U.K. Advised To Cap Airline Emissions


Budget Thwarts Goals Of NASA, Panel Says

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By Frank Morring, Jr.

NASA won’t be able to get human beings out of low Earth orbit (LEO) without about $3 billion a year more than it is getting for exploration, and even then it won’t be able to meet the ambitious back-to-the-moon goals of its current program, according to the presidential commission established to review U.S. human spaceflight….
Budget Thwarts Goals Of NASA, Panel Says


Comac Begins Building C919 Structure

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Bradley Perrett/Hong Kong perrett@aviationweek.com

Comac has begun building the first C919, aiming to complete the main structure of the aircraft nose by the end of this year….

Comac Begins Building C919 Structure


F-35BTo Restart STOVL Tests

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By Graham Warwick

Lockheed Martin has restarted the countdown to the first vertical landing by the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, with aircraft BF-1 returning to flight on Sept. 4 with an hour-long test sortie….
F-35BTo Restart STOVL Tests


Eclipse Aviation Back In Business

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William Garvey

Eclipse Aviation reopened the doors at its Albuquerque, N.M., headquarters and assembly site Sept. 1, some six months after closing them, many thought permanently….

Eclipse Aviation Back In Business