Russian officials today announced that they will hold additional open cosmonaut recruitment drives, similar to the first held earlier this year, but with revisions.

Russian officials today announced that they will hold additional open cosmonaut recruitment drives, similar to the first held earlier this year, but with revisions.

It appears that the first drive was too short, only six weeks long, and did not get them as many applicants as they would have liked.

Bigelow Aerospace has expanded its workforce as well doubled its factory space in response to the commercial contracts NASA recently awarded.

The competition heats up: Bigelow Aerospace has expanded its workforce as well doubled its factory space in response to the commercial contracts NASA recently awarded.

The company just opened a 185,000-square-foot addition, bringing its North Las Vegas plant up to about 350,000 square feet. It slashed its work force from 150 before the recession to 50 during the downturn; now, it’s looking to jump back up to 90 workers by Christmas. It’s hiring structural, mechanical and electrical engineers, as well as chemists, molecular biologists and workers who craft composite spacecraft parts.

Hat tip to Clark Lindsey at NewSpace Watch.

Cave exploration the astronaut way

How not to go cave exploring:

An international crew of six astronauts will start training for a caving adventure designed to prepare them for spaceflight. CAVES, an abbreviation of Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behaviour and performance Skills, prepares astronauts to work safely and effectively and solve problems as a multicultural team while exploring uncharted areas using space procedures.

Or to put it more bluntly, overly complicated, bureaucratically organized, and not very efficient. For example:
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A special Iowahawk guest commentary by Barack Obama, stargazer-in-chief.

A special Iowahawk guest commentary by Barack Obama, stargazer-in-chief.

Neil’s passing gives all of us all pause to consider deeper questions. What does it mean for the future of space exploration? How proud would Neil have been to have a famous historic president refer to him by first name? And, most importantly, how did his death inspire that historic president to make ever more gigantic leaps for mankind?

The commentary might be satire written by Dave Burge, but the photo at the link is real, our President’s idea of honoring Neil Armstrong, with a photo of himself.

Not the same kind of photo legacy that Neil Armstrong left us.

Russian authorities struggle to contain the spread of African swine fever, a deadly virus that attacks pigs.

Russian authorities struggle to contain the spread of African swine fever, a deadly virus that attacks pigs.

Russian authorities have incinerated tens of thousands of pigs and closed roads in the past few weeks, in an attempt to contain an emerging outbreak of African swine fever, a viral disease so lethal to the animals that it has been likened to Ebola. The spread of the disease comes with a heavy economic toll — last year, the Russian Federation lost 300,000 of the country’s 19 million pigs to swine fever, at an estimated cost of about 7.6 billion roubles (US$240 million).

Images from Curiosity have spotted some unexpected geology in Gale Crater.

Images from Curiosity have spotted some unexpected geology in Gale Crater.

A mosaic of high-definition images of Mount Sharp, the central peak dominating the landing site at Gale Crater, reveals tilted strata never before seen on Mars. The strata dip downwards at an angle close to that of the slope of the foothills of the 18,000-ft. tall mountain within which they are formed.

“The cool thing is the cameras have discovered something we were unaware of,” says mission chief scientist John Grotzinger. “This thing jumped out at us as being very different to what we expected,” he adds. Lying in the low-lying foothills beyond the dune field between the rover and the base of Mount Sharp, the inclined layers are a “spectacular feature” that could not be seen from orbit.

I think there are two reasons these tilted layers are puzzling scientists.
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One reason why Neil Armstrong got the job

An evening pause: This short clip from the Discovery Science series Rocket Science illustrates one reason Neil Armstrong got the job to land the first spacecraft on the Moon, even though it shows Armstrong crashing his test vehicle!

The man was cool-headed. Not only did Armstrong not panic when a thruster failed, he kept trying to regain control of the craft until the last moment, ejecting less than a second before impact. Then, he was calm about it afterward, hardly mentioning the incident to others.

An aide to Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren threatened and pushed a reporter this weekend, knocking his video camera to the ground.

Leftwing civility: An aide to Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren threatened and pushed a reporter this weekend, knocking his video camera to the ground.

I like the aide’s comment at the end of the video: “You’re messing with the wrong people.” Video below the fold.
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Neil Armstrong

I think the gracious statement by Neil Armstrong’s family sums up his life quite well.

We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.

Neil was our loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.

Neil Armstrong was also a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job. He served his Nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. He also found success back home in his native Ohio in business and academia, and became a community leader in Cincinnati.

He remained an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his life and never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits.

As much as Neil cherished his privacy, he always appreciated the expressions of good will from people around the world and from all walks of life.

While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.

For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.

“My healthcare plan I put in place in my state has everyone insured.”

Romney on Thursday: “My healthcare plan I put in place in my state has everyone insured.” Also, it is an “important accomplishment” that is “working, by and large, pretty well.”

Oy. Romney apparently still does not realize that Romneycare is as politically toxic as Obamacare, which probably explains why he has not been able to pull ahead of Obama in the polls. It also once again explains why Republicans looked long and hard for an alternative before finally settling on Romney.

Nonetheless, Romney has been very clear about his opinion of Obamacare itself. He considers it an improper overreach of the federal government and a bad law. He has also been very clear about what he will do about it once in office: Repeal it. For this reason, voters will eventually choose him, even if the moment they finally make that choice will be in the voting booth on election day.

The artist who sculpted a secret message in code — in plain view in the courtyard of CIA headquarters and unsolved now for twenty years — has now provided codebreakers a tiny clue to its solution.

The artist who sculpted a secret message in code — in plain view in the courtyard of CIA headquarters and unsolved now for twenty years — has now provided codebreakers a tiny clue to its solution.

The final mystery of Kryptos – it means “hidden” in Greek – is known as the “Everest of codes” among the thousands of cryptographers who are obsessed with deciphering it. … Three passages were unravelled in 1999. But the fourth and toughest remains defiantly obscure, to the surprise of nobody more than Jim Sanborn, the sculptor who created the enduring puzzle.

NASA today announced that recent research on ISS into bone loss due to weightlessness has found that proper exercise and diet can stabilize bone loss.

Good news! NASA today announced that recent research on ISS into bone loss due to weightlessness has found that proper exercise and diet can stabilize bone loss.

Past Russian research on Mir had found that exercise and diet could limit the bone loss, but not stop it entirely. The key difference in this recent work seems to be the use of more sophisticated exercise equipment.

If this research holds up, it eliminates one of the most serious obstacles to interplanetary travel.

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