|*** MAY 2007 ***|
|NASA REDEDICATES FLYING OBSERVATORY ON LINDBERGH ANNIVERSARY|
|...NASA's new Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is a highly modified 747 airliner that carries a 45,000-pound infrared telescope system. Pan American Airways originally christened the plane the "Clipper Lindbergh" in 1977. At the rededication ceremony, NASA officials discussed the similarities between Lindbergh's accomplishments and SOFIA's potential to capture scientifically important infrared images unavailable to earthbound telescopes. The SOFIA aircraft was modified at L-3 Systems in Waco and is wrapping up a series of functional checkout flights before heading to NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., for further tests and systems integration. |
Erik Lindbergh unveiled a plaque commemorating Clipper Lindbergh. "This project is a fantastic blend of a 20th century legacy aircraft and a 21st century platform for exploration," he said.
|NASA SELECTS NEW MEMBERS OF ASTROBIOLOGY INSTITUTE|
|...NASA is awarding five-year grants to four research teams that will become new members of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI). |
The new multidisciplinary teams are led by the University of Wisconsin, Madison; the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena; Montana State University, Bozeman; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge. For the first 18 months of research, teams will receive $350,000 in funding. The five-year average grant size is approximately $7 million per team.
"These teams have proposed exciting research that is complementary to work being done by other NAI members," said NAI Director Carl Pilcher, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. "The selection of these teams forms an excellent foundation for entering
the institute's second decade."
|NASA AWARDS HEAT SHIELD MATERIAL CONTRACTS FOR ORION SPACECRAFT|
|...NASA has selected The Boeing Company, Huntington Beach, Calif., and Textron Systems, Wilmington, Mass., to develop alternate heat shield materials for the Orion crew exploration spacecraft. |
The two contracts for Alternate Block 2 Thermal Protection System (TPS) Materials and Heat Shield Systems Advanced Development will support development and testing of three alternative heat shield materials, designs and manufacturing processes. Under the contracts, the companies will work to ensure the technologies are mature enough to become viable backups if there are difficulties with the primary material.
NASA's Constellation Program is developing Orion as America's primary vehicle for future human space exploration. Orion will carry astronauts to the International Space Station by 2015, with a goal of landing astronauts on the moon no later than 2020. The Orion TPS Advanced Development Project, led by Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., was established to develop a heat shield to protect Orion during its return from low-Earth orbit or the moon.