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NASA says new heavy-lift rocket debut not likely until 2018
NASA’s Space Launch System 70-metric-ton configuration is seen launching to space in this undated artist's renderingBy Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. (Reuters) - NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket, designed to fly astronauts to the moon, asteroids and eventually Mars, likely will not have its debut test flight until November 2018, nearly a year later than previous estimates, agency officials said on Wednesday. NASA is 70 percent confident of making a November 2018 launch date, given the technical, financial and management hurdles the Space Launch System faces on the road to development, NASA associate administrators Robert Lightfoot and Bill Gerstenmaier told reporters on a conference call. NASA estimates it could spend almost $12 billion developing the first of three variations of the rocket and associated ground systems through the debut flight, and potentially billions more to build and fly heavier-lift next-generation boosters, a July 2014 General Accountability Office report on the program said. While the rocket might be ready for a test flight in December 2017, as previously planned, the new assessment showed the odds of that were “significantly less” than the 70 percent confidence level NASA requires of new programs, Gerstenmaier said.
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 19:06:03 -0400
Scientists solve mystery of moving Death Valley rocks
Handout shows a trail left by a rock implanted with a motion-activated GPS unit in the so-called Racetrack Playa of California's Death ValleyBy Alex Dobuzinskis LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A solution to the longstanding mystery of why rocks move erratically across an isolated patch of California's Death Valley finally emerged on Thursday, when researchers published a study showing the driving force was sheets of wind-driven ice. Trails from the movement of the rocks, which show them changing direction suddenly in their movement across the so-called Racetrack Playa, have long befuddled scientists and the general public. Paleobiologist Richard Norris of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who led the study, saw the rare phenomenon first-hand last December while standing with his cousin, engineer James Norris, at the spot.
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 18:52:42 -0400
Texas family to part ways with skeleton of mammoth found on its farm
A nearly complete skeleton of a mammoth that died 20,000 to 40,000 years ago is pictured near Dallas,Texas in this undated handout photoBy Lisa Maria Garza DALLAS (Reuters) - A North Texas family, who discovered the skeleton of a 20,000- to 40,000-year-old mammoth while mining through sediment on their farm, is preparing to turn over the remains to a local museum. In May, Wayne McEwen and his family were gathering material from a gravel pit on their property, south of Dallas, when his son struck a 6-foot (1.8 meter) tusk while operating an excavator. The rest of the near-complete skeleton was unearthed by a team from a nearby community college, who determined it was a Columbian mammoth - a slightly larger, less hairy version of the more famous woolly mammoth. The family decided to donate the remains to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas.
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 18:07:34 -0400
Tricking memory in lab animals stokes hope for PTSD
By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - The frailty of remembrance might have an upside: When a memory is recalled, two research teams reported on Wednesday, it can be erased or rewired so that a painful recollection is physically linked in the brain to joy and a once-happy memory to pain. "Recalling a memory is not like playing a tape recorder," said Susumu Tonegawa of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who led one of the studies. The mice had been engineered so specific brain neurons could be activated with light, a technique called optogenetics. Wed, 27 Aug 2014 14:12:03 -0400
SpaceX delays launch after test rocket explosion
By Irene Koltz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla (Reuters) - Space Exploration Technologies will delay the launch of its next Falcon 9 rocket by up to two weeks following Friday’s explosion of a related prototype vehicle during a flight test, officials said on Tuesday. The privately owned company, also known as SpaceX, had planned to launch a communications satellite owned by Hong Kong-based Asia Satellite Telecommunications Holdings Ltd early Tuesday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. On Sunday, SpaceX announced it would delay the launch of the AsiaSat 6 spacecraft for one day to review data collected during the botched test flight of a Falcon rocket demonstration vehicle that on Friday. The Falcon 9R exploded about 17 seconds after liftoff from SpaceX’s McGregor, Texas, rocket development and testing facility, video posted on YouTube by spectators showed. Tue, 26 Aug 2014 23:12:10 -0400
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