Dec 18, 2008 | 15
In the market for a used space shuttle? You're in luck. If, that is, you happen to have a spare $42 million—and are a U.S. educational institution, federal agency, state or municipality.
NASA yesterday released info about its shuttles' post-retirement plans and put out feelers to gauge interest from potential buyers. (The shuttle program is currently scheduled to end in 2010.) The agency estimates it will cost $42 million to detoxify the fuel systems and conduct other "safing" measures, prep the orbiter for indoor display and transport it by air to its final destination. NASA says it may cost more to reach far-flung locations requiring a long-distance haul "over public roadways which may require removal of light posts and traffic signals or transport by barge over water." The shuttles, after all, have a 78-foot wingspan, about as broad as 11 Hummers.
Aug 12, 2008 | 5
If you didn’t get up early this morning to watch, late-night tonight will still be a good opportunity to catch sight of some shooting stars. Every year around this time, the Earth hurtles through the debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle, resulting in the so-called Perseid meteor shower. The bits of dust strewn by the passing comet (which is now past the orbit of Uranus, according to NASA) burn up as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere, traveling at about 132,000 miles (212,433 kilometers) per hour. These glowing streaks often originate in the direction of the constellation Perseus, hence the shower’s name.
In case you miss this meteoric event as it fizzles out in a few days, the next best time to start looking up for shooting stars will be on November 17, when our planet passes through the neighborhood of the Leonids.
Feb 8, 2006
So much in our vast universe seems hopelessly faraway, but with NASA's FY2007 budget even relatively close planetary neighbors like Mars and Europa now seem more distant. The venerable space agency's cancellation of so many robotic exploration and observation projects dawns as a dark day for space science. It is sadly ironic, considering that a hefty 76 percent increase to $3.06 billion has been allotted for the long-term manned spaceflight initiative. This bodes well for the future of American manned space exploration. But the price has been high, way too high.
Most salient among the robotic mission cuts is the Europa exploration program that had been given the highest priority solar system science objective after Mars by the National Academy of Sciences and NASA advisory committees. And even planetary exploration's job-one that has seen the Martian landscape increasingly covered with rover tracks was also not immune: NASA's Red Planet research budget has been cut by $243.3 million to $700.2 million. This includes the cancellation or indefinite postponement of projects such as the Mars Sample Return Mission and the Mars Telecommunications Orbiter.
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