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*** FEBRUARY 2007 ***

...Under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), NASA Ames Research Center, located in the heart of California's Silicon Valley, and Virgin Galactic, LLC, a U.S. subsidiary of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, will explore possible collaborations
in several technical areas, including hybrid rocket motors and hypersonic vehicles capable of traveling five or more times the speed
of sound, employing NASA Ames' unique capabilities and world-class facilities.
"As we constantly seek to build upon the advances made by explorers who have come before us, we now embark upon an exciting time in space exploration history that realizes the unlimited opportunities presented by a commercial space economy," said Shana Dale, NASA's
deputy administrator. "By encouraging such potential collaborations, NASA supports the development of greater commercial collaboration and applications that will serve to strengthen and enhance the future benefits of space exploration for all of mankind."

NASA researchers will discuss Mars as a life-sustaining planet, potential asteroid impacts on Earth, studying the cosmos from the moon and various other topics at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Francisco. The meeting will be held .., at three San Francisco hotels. The meeting's newsroom is located in the Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason St., Grand Ballroom I. Sessions also will take place in The Hilton San Francisco, 333 O'Farrell St.; and the Parc 55, 55 Cyril Magnin St. (formerly Renaissance Park). Sessions are open to registered news media. AAAS has embargoed presentation information until the session, lecture or related news briefing, whichever comes first.
Following are several noteworthy presentations by researchers from NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., listed in chronological order

MOFFETT FIELD - NASA's drive to return astronauts to the moon and later probe deeper into space achieved a key milestone recently when agency officials approved critical elements of a moon impact mission scheduled to launch in October 2008. NASA's unmanned Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, known as LCROSS, will strike the moon near its south pole in January 2009. It will search for water and other materials that astronauts could use at a future lunar outpost.
Scott Horowitz, associate administrator of the agency's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, led a confirmation review panel that recently approved the detailed plans, instrument suite, budget and risk factor analysis for the satellite.
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., manages the mission. The mission is valued at $79 million, excluding launch costs. The mission will help NASA gain a new foothold on the moon and prepare for new journeys to Mars and beyond.
The confirmation review authorized continuation of the lunar impactor project and set its cost and schedule. Another mission milestone, the critical design review, is scheduled for late February. That review will examine the detailed Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing
Satellite system design. After a successful critical design review, the project team will assemble the spacecraft and its instruments.
"The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite project represents an efficient way of doing business by being cost capped, schedule constrained and risk tolerant," said Daniel Andrews, project manager at Ames for the lunar impactor mission...