Wednesday, February 29, 2012
From The Washington Post:
Quick: Name an astrophysicist. Any astrophysicist.
Can’t do it? You’re surely not alone. But not only is there an astrophysicist whose name was among the 20 most-searched terms on Google Tuesday morning—he also has more than 300,000 Twitter followers. With a new book released Monday, Neil deGrasse Tyson is making the rounds of The Daily Show, NPR, CBS Morning and the like. If he keeps getting attention at this pace, he may actually help to reinvigorate this country’s space program (which in 2012 will mark its first year in three decades without launching a manned space vehicle) by giving it something it appears to be missing: An outspoken leader.
Tyson’s day job is the director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York; he is also a renowned space expert who began giving lectures on astronomy at the ripe old age of 15. He hosts several science programs on television, has served on presidential astronomy commissions, and is a recipient of the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest civilian honor given by the space program.
What I find most interesting about all the interest in Tyson and his book is that it comes along at the very moment Newt Gingrich’s fall in the polls seemed to coincide almost directly with his talk of moon colonies and trips to Mars. Our reactions to the two may simply be that we trust the head of the Hayden Planetarium when he talks about a base on the moon—something Tyson says is no more ambitious than Kennedy’s goal of walking there 40 years ago—but question a GOP candidate who says it while standing on Florida’s “space coast,” thinking it sounds nutty, if not pandering.
But it probably also has something to do with how Tyson talks about science and space exploration. He is not just a child prodigy with a lot of media appearances and a penchant for wearing celestial-themed ties and vests without a trace of irony. He is a gifted communicator who displays qualities of leadership that seem lacking in so many public officials. For one, he makes the reasons for space exploration accessible, putting its importance into simple and often humorous terms. “Venus has a runaway greenhouse effect—I kind of want to know what happened there,” he said in an NPR interview Monday. “Mars once had running water—it’s bone dry today; something bad happened there as well. Asteroids have us in [their] sights. Dinosaurs didn’t have a space program, so they’re not here to talk about this problem. We are and we have the power to do something.”
He also has a genuine passion and child-like fascination with what he does, and isn’t afraid to wrap the space program up in grand talk of bold adventure and big ideas. His enthusiasm is infectious—and credible—even for those who couldn’t care less about space and see it as a nice-to-have at a time of bloated deficits and economic pain. He thinks President Obama should be talking about upping NASA’s budget because “not only is it the grandest epic adventure a human being can undertake” but such an increase would “create a shift in the state of mind of people where they will say hey, ‘we are dreaming about tomorrow again.’ ”
Finally, he’s not afraid of criticizing the president’s current approach to space exploration and funding, saying that Obama’s “Sputnik moment” call for high-speed rail amounts to short-term thinking. “Is that how you’re going to use a new Sputnik moment? To do something you should have already had? Excuse me? Let’s use a Sputnik moment to do a Sputnik kind of thing.” In other words, he says things no NASA administrator could ever say, pushing for more funding with his enthusiasm, accessibility and credibility. Some have said Tyson is filling the void of Carl Sagan, who was a mentor of Tyson’s in his early years. Whatever unofficial role he may have, Tyson shows the power of both outside voices and outside leaders when it comes to generating attention.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Monday, February 20, 2012
Friday, February 17, 2012
From Lockheed Martin:
DENVER, December 5th, 2011 -- Lockheed Martin [NYSE:LMT] has been selected by the U.S. Air Force for a contract award to support the Reusable Booster System (RBS) Flight and Ground Experiments program. The value of the first task order is $2 million, with a contract ordering value of up to $250 million over the five-year indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract period. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center are developing the RBS as the next generation launch vehicle that will significantly improve the affordability, operability, and responsiveness of future spacelift capabilities over current expendable launchers.
Initial RBS Flight and Ground Experiments task orders will provide for an RBS flight demonstration vehicle called RBS Pathfinder scheduled to launch in 2015. The RBS Pathfinder is an innovative reusable, winged, rocket-powered flight test vehicle that will demonstrate the Reusable Booster Systems’ “rocketback” maneuver capabilities and validate the system requirements that will drive refinements in the design of the operational RBS.
“We are very pleased to be selected by the Air Force to support them on the Reusable Booster System program,” said John Karas, Lockheed Martin Space System’s vice president and general manager of Human Space Flight. “The innovative technologies and capabilities that RBS will provide are vital to meeting the needs of the Air Force and the nation for more affordable, responsive spacelift in the future.”
The Lockheed Martin RBS team is led by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company of Denver, Colo., with Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® operations in Palmdale, Calif., and Fort Worth, Texas. The team also includes small business partners Science and Technology Applications, LLC of Moorpark, Calif., UP Aerospace of Highlands Ranch, Colo., and JFA Avionics Systems of Newbury Park, Calif. For the RBS Pathfinder program, Lockheed Martin has also entered into an agreement with the New Mexico Spaceport Authority to conduct flight test operations from Spaceport America, the nation’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, located in southern New Mexico.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 126,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation's 2010 sales from continuing operations were $45.8 billion.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
From Yahoo News:
From Yahoo News:
From Yahoo News: