Archive for February, 2012

Buzz to be honored at Edwards FTHF Excellence in Aviation Awards dinner

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Getting Buzzed in Sobriety

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Writers in Treatment honors the legendary astronaut—and sober role model—Buzz Aldrin with its Experience, Strength and Hope Award.

There are high-functioning alcoholics, and then there’s Buzz Aldrin—the second man to walk on the moon and the recipient of the 3rd annual Experience, Strength and Hope Award at the Writers in Treatment event on Friday, February 17 at the Skirball Cultural Center in LA.

Writers in Treatment, which was founded by Fix contributor Leonard Buschel, is, to the writing community, what MusicCares is to musicians (though as Buschel wryly noted from the stage, with far less funding): they help get addicted writers into treatment. (The evening’s co-sponsor, Casa De Las Amigas, is a treatment center for women.)

The evening, which also featured impassioned speeches by Danny Trejo, Ed Begley Jr, city councilman Richard Alarcón and Frankie Norstad, began with a reception; guests then filed into the auditorium for a series of speeches and comedic performances. Arguably the most touching tribute of the night came from actor Trejo—who’s appeared in hundreds of movies and has been clean and sober for roughly four decades. With tears in his eyes, he introduced Aldrin by saying, “I tell people when I speak at high schools, ‘I’d rather shoot for the moon and miss than aim for the gutter and make it’ so I can’t wait to tell them I met a guy who shot for the moon and made it.” Aldrin—who’s been sober since 1978—showed off his sense of humor (the stage presentation began with a clip from Da Ali G Show of Sascha Baron Cohen interviewing Aldrin) while never losing sight of the seriousness of alcoholism. While he thanked his parents, among others, he also mentioned that he’d inherited his tendencies toward depression and addiction from them.

Read the original article at The Fix.

A Journey Into Distant Worlds: Making Space Exploration Come Alive for Young Earthlings

Monday, February 13th, 2012

George Whitesides, president and CEO of Virgin Galactic — the pioneering U.S.-based space tourism company — made a thought-provoking statement recently that does a great job of crystallizing just how far we have come in space travel and exploration.

Said Whitesides: “It’s important for children today to realize that they are growing up in a world where, if anyone puts their mind to it, they can go to space.” He added, “Since the dawn of the space age, only about 525 people have been to space.” And as space travel today is made safe and more affordable for the private citizen, “Virgin Galactic is hoping to fly that number of people into space the first year to year-and-a-half of our operation.”

Think of it: Kids going to bed tonight dreaming of going into space stand to have that goal fulfilled multiple times within their lifetime as technology and innovation endeavor to make space travel for the average citizen as common as transcontinental airline flight.

These are the types of advances in space technology that young students and others need to know about, and which we will be featuring in spades this spring at the U.S.A. Science & Engineering Festival the nation’s largest celebration of science and engineering.

Dedicated to inspiring the next generation of innovators as well as informing the public about the fascinating world of technology, the Festival hosted by Lockheed Martin will (among other exciting areas of science and engineering) take visitors behind the scenes in space exploration as NASA and other partners in the aerospace industry forge bold new paths in this field.

Join us April 28-29, 2012, in Washington, D.C. when Festival visitors, through exciting hands-on presentations with aerospace professionals, get inside information on what it takes to travel to the moon and Mars, as well as what the future holds for space travel for the private citizen. And don’t miss the opportunity to meet and hear the stories of exciting pioneers in space exploration — the astronauts and private space travelers who helped pave the way for the future.

We feel especially fortunate to have such industry leaders as Lockheed Martin and NASA returning as key sponsors and participants in the Festival. In addition to their long history of commitment to motivating students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through hands-on outreach programs, they provide unparalleled insight into the world of space travel.

NASA leads space exploration in the United States and the world, with exciting missions in aeronautics, robotic and human exploration, and science. The agency retired the Space Shuttle Program in 2011, and is fostering a new era of spaceflight with breakthroughs in technology and innovation to send humans deeper into space as it inspires the next generation of engineers, scientists and explorers.

Lockheed Martin, the host of the Festival and a leading aerospace company, spearheads the industry in developing the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, NASA’s next-generation spacecraft for future human exploration throughout our solar system.

Says Dr. Ray O. Johnson, Lockheed Martin senior vice president and chief technology officer: “The journey ahead is exciting, and it will lead us to new discoveries and distant worlds.”

It is our aim during the Festival to give kids a peek into these discoveries and distant frontiers by providing them an up-close look into cutting-edge space technology, and giving them the chance to meet and interact with members of the space community, including people who have traveled into space as NASA astronauts and as private citizens and as leaders from companies who hope to make space tourism more broadly available.

Our agenda of exciting presenters includes: John Mace Grunsfeld, Ph.D., a five-time Space Shuttle astronaut; electrical engineer Anousheh Ansari, who made world headlines in 2006 as one of the first female private space explorer, and legendary computer video game innovator Richard Garriott who in 2008 became the sixth private citizen to journey into Earth’s orbit.

“I made my space travel experience a productive one that went beyond simple sightseeing and personal fulfillment,” says Garriott. While on his 12-day journey aboard the Russian Soyuz TMA-13 spacecraft to the International Space Station as a self-funded tourist, Garriott — whose father is former NASA astronaut Owen Garriott — conducted several experiments, took photographs and communicated with students.

At the Festival, he will shed light on what he thinks space travel will look like over the next 20 years, as well as how anyone with a passion or vision can achieve his or her dream, including space travel.

Also presenting will be such serial entrepreneurs as Elon Musk, co-founder of SpaceX which is best known for producing such high-performance space launch vehicles as the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 rockets. (A Merlin rocket engine developed by Space X will be at the Festival for visitors to examine.)

In addition, visitors will learn more from George Whitesides on Virgin Galatic’s goal of creating a fleet of spaceships by 2013 that can begin transporting people into space on a regular basis.

Like the these esteemed Festival partners, I believe that space remains one of the greatest frontiers to explore for America and the world. Come join us for the journey next April at the Festival!

Read the original article at Huffington Post Science

Europe Launches New Vega Rocket on Maiden Voyage

Monday, February 13th, 2012

A brand-new rocket soared into space early Monday (Feb. 13) in a launch debut that carried nine small satellites and the hopes of the European Space Agency all the way into orbit.

The space agency’s new Vega rocket, which is designed to launch small satellites, blasted off from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, on the northern Atlantic coast of South America and reached orbit minutes later. Liftoff occurred at 5 a.m. ET (1000 GMT).

“Today is a moment of pride for Europe as well as those around 1,000 individuals who have been involved in developing the world’s most modern and competitive launcher system for small satellites,” said Antonio Fabrizi, ESA’s launch vehicle director, in a statement.

ESA spent 700 million Euros (about $930 million) and nearly nine years developing the four-stage Vega rocket and plans to spend another 300 million Euros (about $399 million) on the booster’s first five flights. The new booster is designed to serve as a launcher for small payloads to complement Europe’s heavy-lift Ariane 5 rockets and the medium-class Russian Soyuz rockets that lift off from the Guiana Space Center.

Read the original article at

Big NASA Budget Cuts to Slash Mars Missions

Friday, February 10th, 2012

NASA’s budget for the next fiscal year is likely to include deep cuts to planetary science programs, forcing the space agency to withdraw altogether from an international effort to send two new missions to Mars, experts say.

President Barack Obama is slated to submit his administration’s federal budget request for fiscal year 2013 on Monday (Feb. 13), and NASA will hold a series of briefings to discuss its share on the same day. While exactly how much money is allocated to NASA is unknown, insiders expect a significant reduction in the portion slotted for robotic exploration of Mars and other solar system bodies.

The cuts probably will compel NASA to bow out of the European Space Agency-led ExoMars missions, which aim to launch an orbiter and a drill-toting rover to the Red Planet in 2016 and 2018, respectively, says one space policy expert.

“NASA has, I think, already told ESA it’s not going to be able to provide a launch vehicle in 2016,” said John Logsdon, professor emeritus at George Washington University. “So that is going to cause a big international uproar on one dimension. And the planetary community in the U.S. is going to be very unhappy about the fact that there’s no money for major new planetary missions.

What are your thoughts?